An increasing number of firms try to implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) from the perspective of sustainable development. This article considers these efforts in the light of the changing relation between the state, society and the corporate sector, as a result of which governance increasingly takes the shape of a society-centred practice. The article focuses on stimulating governance through initiating learning processes among companies as a strategy for implementing CSR. It analyses the conditions under which learning may take place and may translate into action. To that end, it draws from the experiences of a comprehensive programme on CSR organized by the Dutch National Initiative for Sustainable Development (NIDO) which set out to accelerate transformation processes towards sustainable business by (i) facilitating learning among company representatives, (ii) assisting them to convey the insights gained to their respective companies, and (iii) influencing the contextual conditions that may incite companies to adopt CSR. The article argues that the ability to induce processes of learning and structural change renders the approach developed in the NIDO programme a viable contribution to realizing public policy ambitions by tapping into the dynamics of private organizations.

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Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Department of Sociology

Cramer, J, & Loeber, J.G. (2004). Governance through learning: Making corporate social responsibility in Dutch industry effective from a sustainable development perspective. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning (Vol. 6, pp. 271–287). doi:10.1080/1523908042000344041