Individual competencies for managers engaged in corporate sustainable management practices

R. Wesselink*, V. Blok, S. van Leur, T. Lans, D. Dentoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Corporations increasingly acknowledge the importance of sustainable practices. Corporate social responsibility is therefore gaining significance in the business world. Since solving corporate social responsibility issues is not a routine job, every challenge in corporate social responsibility requires its own approach; and management competencies are crucial for designing appropriate approaches towards the realization of sustainable solutions. On the basis of seven corporate social responsibility competencies synthesized from the extant literature, this research provides an empirical analysis of which of these competencies managers need in order to achieve corporate social responsibility goals within their specific context; and at which specific stage of the implementation process. The data sources are interviews with corporate social responsibility managers – whose positions and circumstances share many similarities – at four large multinational enterprises. The empirical analysis reveals that managers undertake four corporate social responsibility core tasks: I) orientation, II) reaching common ground, III) performing pilot projects, and IV) embedding results. Within the context of the analysis, the competencies: Systems Thinking, Embracing Diversity and Interdisciplinarity, Interpersonal Competence, Action Competence, and Strategic Management were found to be necessary. The Embracing Diversity and Interdisciplinarity competence was identified as the most relevant. This study contributes to the corporate social responsibility (education) literature by introducing an empirical test of which competencies are considered necessary for managers in various stages of corporate social responsibility implementation. Linking these competencies to core tasks makes them more concrete and increases the chances of interpreting them unambiguously, which in turn can aid learning trajectories in both business and education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-506
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • social-responsibility
  • higher-education
  • key competences
  • capabilities
  • innovation
  • framework
  • business
  • pitfalls


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