Sustainability and stakeholder approach in Olivetti from 1943 to 1960: a lesson from the past

Purpose of the paper: The sustainable enterprise focuses on its stakeholders interests. Today this perspective is a central one in the dialogue on enterprise goals and on the nature of the firm but it was already clear in the past history of some enlightened entrepreneurs like Adriano Olivetti. This important entrepreneur was able to balance economic responsibility and social ones in his managerial model and he showed that the pillars of sustainability, as we call them today, were internally coherent.

Methodology: We apply an interpretative framework (Carrolls pyramid) to analyze the entrepreneurial choices by Adriano Olivetti according to the various perspectives of Corporate Social Responsibility. Our analysis is based upon Adriano Olivettis texts and the transcriptions of his speeches, his biographies, and on interviews to managers that were active during the years of Adriano Olivettis administration of the Olivetti Group or later experienced the values left in the company after his untimely death.

Findings: This article highlights how their extraordinary experience has demonstrated the full compatibility between social and economic responsibilities. Moreover, the article proves that the various dimensions of corporate social responsibility are tightly connected. Finally, it shows how good stakeholder management practices are a successful strategy.

Research Limits: The articles main limitation is that it is mostly based on anecdotal evidence and secondary sources.

Practical implications: The analytical framework we employ can be useful in driving responsible management processes for modern managers and entrepreneurs.

Originality of the paper: This article proposes two modified versions of a classic model on corporate social responsibility.

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