CSR conceptions and practices which have been developing in the management world until very recently correspond mainly to defensive or reactive strategies of firms vis-à-vis their stakeholders. Nonetheless, even in light of the challenges posed by today’s economic and financial crisis, the present period can be an exceptionally fertile moment to move beyond this adaptive approach and to realize a more advanced view of the social dimension of business as sustainable innovation based on the valorization of "context" needs and resources. Drawing on the results of an empirical research conducted on a diverse sample of Italian organizations, in particular the article identifies and discusses three distinctive conditions which seem to underpin the capacity to generate economic value in a way that also creates social value: the balance between cultural embeddedness and exploration; the tendency to expand in the context and, at the same time, to include it; and human resource practices establishing a virtuous link between citizenship behaviours in and of the firm. In conclusion, by representing the practice of organizational sustainability in terms not only of social responsibility but also as key ingredient of a firm’s competitiveness, the analysis suggests a wider-ranging perspective on the strategic implications of CSR.
Keywords: Sustainable innovation, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, integrated value, italian enterprises.