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  • Opening a Path towards Sustainable Corporate Behaviour: Public Participation in Criminal Environmental Proceedings

    Pavel Kotlán; Alena Kozlová; Zuzana Machová (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    Establishing criminal liability for environmental offences remains daunting, particularly with regard to the ‘no plaintiff—no judge’ element as a result of which the public seems to be ultimately deprived of the possibility to participate in criminal environmental proceedings. While there is arguably a lack of specific instruments at the European Union (EU) level which would prescribe such legal obligation on the part of the State, there has been a shift in understanding the role of the public and its participation in criminal liability cases, namely under the auspices of the so-called effective investigation and the concept of rights of victims in general. Using the example of the Czech Republic as a point of reference, this article aims to assess the relevant legal developments at both EU and Czech levels to illustrate why the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), essentially acting as public agents, should be granted an active role in environmental criminal proceedings. After examining the applicable legal framework and case law development, the article concludes that effective investigation indeed stands as a valid legal basis for human rights protection which incorporates an entitlement to public participation. Despite that, this pro-active shift is far from being applied in practice, implying that the legislation remains silent where it should be the loudest, and causing unsustainable behaviour of companies.
  • A Sustainable Plan to Rescue HR from Itself

    James W. Westerman (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The Human Resource (HR) function is often viewed by those in organizations as a process function and a cost-center, which results in an enhanced risk of outsourcing and automation. However, HR is also uniquely positioned to engage firms in cross-functional transformational change efforts, as its work is embedded in every business function within an organization. Sustainable HR and the triple bottom line (TBL) present opportunities for HR to build a strategic role within organizations. This essay provides strategic and tactical models, with specific steps for implementation, to assist HR in re-assert its role in driving the competitiveness of the firm through Sustainable HR.
  • Law-Driven Innovation in Cereal Varieties: The Role of Plant Variety Protection and Seed Marketing Legislation in the European Union

    Serena Mariani (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The aim of this paper is to investigate the role of EU legislation in shaping innovation in cereal varieties. The research focuses on two fields of law and their relationship, i.e., intellectual property and agricultural law. More specifically, the normative legal investigation concerns the role played by Community plant variety protection and the EU legislation on the marketing of seed and plant propagating material in shaping innovation and stimulating plant breeding of new cereal varieties. The focus is on cereal varieties because innovation in this field has a great socio-economic impact, as well as strategic scientific and environmental implications. Breeding new cereal varieties is essential for the competitiveness of the seed and agricultural sector of the EU, and it can contribute to food security and the achievement of sustainable development goals. The study finds that it is necessary to simplify the existing legal framework by coordinating intellectual property and agricultural law, providing for legislative review and better coherence in order to effectively shape innovation and meet the changing demands of society and the sustainability challenges.
  • Public Consultation on Proposed Revisions to Norway’s Gene Technology Act: An Analysis of the Consultation Framing, Stakeholder Concerns, and the Integration of Non-Safety Considerations

    Sigfrid Kjeldaas; Trine Antonsen; Sarah Hartley; Anne Ingeborg Myhr (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    In Norway, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are regulated through the Gene Technology Act of 1993, which has received international attention for its inclusion of non-safety considerations. In 2017, the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board triggered a process to revise the Act that included a public consultation and resulted in the “Proposal for relaxation.” Using poststructuralist discourse analysis, we critically analyze the premises and processes through which the proposal for relaxation was developed—including the public consultation—to understand the range of stakeholder concerns and how these concerns shaped the final proposal. We find that the proposal does not include all concerns equally. The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board’s privileging of technological matters and its preference for tier-based regulation skewed the proposal in a way that reduced broader societal concerns to technological definitions and marginalized discussion of the social, cultural, and ethical issues raised by new gene technologies. To prevent such narrowing of stakeholder concerns in the future, we propose Latour’s model for political economy as a tool to gauge the openness of consultations for biotechnology regulation.
  • The Role of Community-Led Food Retailers in Enabling Urban Resilience

    Morven G. McEachern; Gary Warnaby; Caroline Moraes (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    Our research examines the extent to which community-led food retailers (CLFRs) contribute to the resilience and sustainability of urban retail systems and communities in the UK, contributing to existing debates on the sustainability and resilience of the UK’s urban retail sector. While existing literature has predominantly focused on larger retail multiples, we suggest more attention be paid to small, independent retailers as they possess a broader, more diffuse spatiality and societal impact than that of the immediate locale. Moreover, their local embeddedness and understanding of the needs of the local customer base provide a key source of potentially sustainable competitive advantage. Using spatial and relational resilience theories, and drawing on 14 original qualitative interviews with CLFRs, we establish the complex links between community, place, social relations, moral values, and resilience that manifest through CLFRs. In doing so, we advance the conceptualization of <i>community resilience</i> by acknowledging that in order to realise the networked, resilient capacities of a community, the moral values and behavior of the retail community need to be ascertained. Implications and relevant recommendations are provided to secure a more sustainable set of capacities needed to ensure resilient, urban retail systems which benefit local communities.
  • Crowdsourcing Research for Social Insights into Smart Cities Applications and Services

    Wadee Alhalabi; Miltiadis Lytras; Nada Aljohani (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The evolution in knowledge management and crowdsourcing research provides new data-processing capabilities. The availability of both structured and unstructured open data formats offers unforeseen opportunities for analytics processing and advanced decision-making. However, social sciences research is facing advanced, complicated social challenges and problems. The focus of this study is to analyze the contribution of crowdsourcing techniques to the promotion of advanced social sciences research, exploiting open data available from the geographical positioning system (GPS) to analyze human behavior. In our study, we present the conceptual design of a device that, with the help of a global positioning system-data collection device (GPS-DCD), associates behavioral aspects of human life with place. The main contribution of this study is to integrate research in computer science and information systems with that in social science. The prototype system summarized in this work, proves the capacity of crowdsourcing and big data research to facilitate aggregation of microcontent related to human behavior toward improved quality of life and well-being in modern smart cities. Various ethical issues are also discussed to promote the scientific debate on this matter. Our study shows the capacity of emerging technologies to deal with social challenges. This kind of research will gain increased momentum in the future due to the availability of big data and new business models for social platforms.
  • Design for Deconstruction Using Integrated Lean Principles and BIM Approach

    Mohamed Marzouk; Ahmed Elmaraghy (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    Existing buildings are characterized by the continuous change in the functional requirements of their end-users. As such, they are subjected to renovation or reconstruction, which is associated with total or partial demolition of the buildings, leading to an increase in construction and demolition waste. In addition, the materials abandoning the circular loop leave an adverse impact on the environment. This research integrates the building information modeling (BIM) approach and lean principles to ensure the early involvement of key participants in the decision-making process. This approach aids in planning the sequencing of deconstruction planning phases required before actual demolition activities take place. The paper presents the practical implementation of a BIM plug-in Tool. The assumptions and the scope based on which the plug-in was designed are briefly discussed. A case study for a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) BIM model is introduced to illustrate the practical features of the proposed BIM plug-in Tool. The results encourage the selective dismantling of building elements based on the customers’ needs. Building information modeling capabilities in deconstruction planning were also investigated. The proposed tool aids in decreasing the uncertainties involved in demolition projects. The tool can be implemented on a national level to automate the deconstruction projects and optimize the extraction of salvaged building elements. The recovery option for such elements and their final destiny can be secured with sufficient time before their dismantling from their original locations.
  • Effects of Service Justice, Quality, Social Influence and Corporate Image on Service Satisfaction and Customer Loyalty: Moderating Effect of Bank Ownership

    Md. Alamgir Hossain; Most. Nirufer Yesmin; Nusrat Jahan; Minho Kim (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    Today, the banking sector plays a significant role due to the substantial increase in the number of banks and has become an intensely competitive field. The purpose of this paper is to strengthen knowledge of retail banking services by finding the interrelationships between service justice, service quality, social influence, and corporate image concerning service satisfaction and loyalty. In addition, we sought to determine the moderating effect of bank ownership (i.e., state-owned and private sector banks) on the above relationships. Data were collected at random through online surveys that were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Empirical findings revealed that service justice and quality have a significant effect on service satisfaction and customer loyalty. Social influence has a significant effect on customer loyalty, but not on service satisfaction; however, corporate image is positively related to service satisfaction, but not to customer loyalty. Understandably, service satisfaction was assumed to have a fundamental relationship to consumer loyalty. However, moderation results indicated that state or private sector ownership of banks was an equally important moderating factor for almost all dimensions relevant to customer loyalty, other than service justice, social influence, and service satisfaction. The study presents theoretical contributions and considers the managerial implications for banking services that are potentially applicable to other financial institutions.
  • The Effect of Socially Responsible HRM on Organizational Citizenship Behavior for the Environment: A Proactive Motivation Model

    Junqian He; Hyosun Kim (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    Many organizations face the important challenges of motivating employees effectively to participate in corporate social responsibility initiatives and maintaining socially responsible human resource management practices. We examine whether socially responsible human resource management (SRHRM) practices can affect employees’ social responsibility-related behaviors, such as organizational citizenship behavior for the environment (OCBE). Based on proactive motivation theory, we propose a multiple-mediation model, selecting moral efficacy, felt obligation, and empathy as the mediators. We analyzed data from a sample of 535 employees from 23 manufacturing companies in China. The results show that SRHRM practices have a significant positive effect on OCBE. We also found that moral efficacy, felt obligation, and empathy significantly mediate the effect of SRHRM practices on OCBE and that there is no significant difference among the three mediation paths. Our study suggests that organizational pursuit of the socially responsible human resource management practices is an effective pathway to make employees feel more responsible toward global sustainability.
  • Intercultural Competencies for Fostering Technology-Mediated Collaboration in Developing Countries

    Albert Kampermann; Raymond Opdenakker; Beatrice van der Heijden; Joost Bücker (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    With the rapid global spread and application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the question is whether every culture makes similar use of the ideology that often underlies its creators’ design. ICT applications are designed with underlying beliefs or principles about e.g., work, communication, and individuality. These beliefs or principles are invisible and hidden in software and, as such, in many instances not recognized by users in other cultures. These hidden principles might even frustrate the understanding, use, knowledge-sharing, and e-collaboration between people from different cultures. In this article, we aim to explore, from a historical point of view, the early years of adaptation of ICT in developing countries, and we will highlight the importance of the use of intercultural (ICT-)skills to learn to recognize cultural differences from a relationship-based definition in technology-mediated collaboration. A semi-systematic or narrative review approach is used that is particularly suitable for topics that have been conceptualized differently. Our review firstly summarizes and categorizes the cultural factors impacting the adaptation and diffusion of ICT, especially in developing countries, and investigates which factors could hinder and/or facilitate the collaboration with other countries. Secondly, the findings of a thorough comparison between different intercultural competencies’ frameworks indicate that intercultural competencies show a combination of motivation, knowledge (-management), and skills, which are key competencies in the light of successful technology-mediated collaboration.
  • Employee Representatives and a Good Working Life: Achieving Social and Communicative Sustainability for HRM

    Isabell Koinig; Franzisca Weder (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    This article examines the role of employee representatives, who support HRM in positioning itself and the organization as “socially responsible”. Based on a constructivist understanding of organizational communication, employee representatives are examined as previously unrecognized entities that are responsible—and also essential—for guaranteeing a good working life, which also originates through communication. The article provides an overview of existing studies on employee representatives and their positions in companies and tries to bridge the gaps among organizational communication, CSR communication, and management theory by redesigning the role of employee representatives—who have received limited academic attention to date—as communicators. The insights from an international comparative study confirm that employee representatives perceive themselves not only as a “grief box” or “control body” of management, but also as a responsible agent and “medium” for the realization of social and communicative sustainability. This not only opens up new research perspectives, but also highlights the need to conceptually deal and theoretically discuss employee representatives and their roles in internal communication processes from the perspectives of organizational communication, HRM, CSR, and sustainability.
  • Family Business as a Bearer of Social Sustainability in Multinationals-Case of Slovakia

    Boris Rumanko; Jana Kozáková; Mária Urbánová; Monika Hudáková (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    Social sustainability is slowly becoming a more important aspect of a company’s management, particularly in the case of multinational companies with an international network of subsidiaries placed in diverse cultural and social environments. The concept of social sustainability is strongly connected with a considerable number of stakeholders, compared to the environmental and economic aspects of sustainability. The nature of activities under the social pillar of corporate responsibility connects social sustainability with family business, which aims at the principles of social solidarity, equality and ethics. This article uniquely analyzes selected aspects of social sustainability on a sample of 201 Slovak subsidiaries of foreign multinationals and finds differences between family and nonfamily ones. Surprisingly, the conducted research proved that the examined family businesses cannot be considered as bearers of social sustainability in Slovakia, since, in many aspects, the nonfamily businesses implemented the monitored aspects in larger measures, and there were only two factors that turned out to be significant, according to the type of business ownership. Equal opportunities in the workplace were the only variable, due to which significant differences were seen, according to the factor of a family business and the factor of employees’ gender simultaneously, which makes it a crucial variable. The conducted study fills the gap in explanation of interconnections between social sustainability, family business and equal gender opportunities, which makes it unique not just in Slovak conditions.
  • Contextualization of the Bioeconomy Concept through Its Links with Related Concepts and the Challenges Facing Humanity

    Leire Barañano; Naroa Garbisu; Itziar Alkorta; Andrés Araujo; Carlos Garbisu (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The concept of bioeconomy is a topic of debate, confusion, skepticism, and criticism. Paradoxically, this is not necessarily a negative thing as it is encouraging a fruitful exchange of information, ideas, knowledge, and values, with concomitant beneficial effects on the definition and evolution of the bioeconomy paradigm. At the core of the debate, three points of view coexist: (i) those who support a broad interpretation of the term bioeconomy, through the incorporation of all economic activities based on the production and conversion of renewable biological resources (and organic wastes) into products, including agriculture, livestock, fishing, forestry and similar economic activities that have accompanied humankind for millennia; (ii) those who embrace a much narrower interpretation, reserving the use of the term bioeconomy for new, innovative, and technologically-advanced economic initiatives that result in the generation of high-added-value products and services from the conversion of biological resources; and (iii) those who stand between these two viewpoints. Here, to shed light on this debate, a contextualization of the bioeconomy concept through its links with related concepts (biotechnology, bio-based economy, circular economy, green economy, ecological economics, environmental economics, etc.) and challenges facing humanity today is presented.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility in South Europe during the Financial Crisis and Its Relation to the Financial Performance of Greek Companies

    Ioannis Ziogas; Theodore Metaxas (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    This paper aims at presenting the notion of corporate social responsibility in Europe by examining its application in Southern European countries, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. These major Mediterranean countries, beside the geographical proximity and common features, were at the center of the financial crisis in Europe in 2009. The aforementioned countries are under evaluation on the one hand as a European region and on the other hand as independent ones. Considering the complexity of CSR, its aspects through time, its diversity depending on the geographical position and the necessity of ethical CSR as part of business activity, this paper presents a new categorization of existing quantitative indicators and a method of evaluation that covers the multidimensional notion of CSR. The new model, which combines quantitative indicators, is used to measure CSR during the period from 2009 until 2016 and reflects companies’ ethical policy, the degree of understanding their moral obligations. The longitudinal comparative analysis is the starting point for further improvement as the countries, except for Portugal, are fluctuating within low levels and the Mediterranean region as a whole in average ones. Furthermore, having estimate CSR index, the examination of the financial performance of Greek companies within the period 2015–2016 confirms the majority of the literature that the adoption of CSR’s good practices, is not only a moral rule, but contributes at least partly, to the development of their effectiveness. As a conclusion, the structure of a commonly acceptable measurement model of the National Social Responsibility and the longitudinal measurement will be a useful tool for all involved institutions, with immediate results to both the society and the companies.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Employability: Empirical Evidence from Korea

    Chang Seop Rhee; Sohee Woo; So-Jin Yu; Hyunjung Rhee (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    A firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) aids in social well-being, but it is costly. It is thus necessary to study whether a firm’s CSR activities are valuable in terms of costs and benefits for shareholders’ interest. Recent studies reported that firms’ CSR activities help to develop the corporate environment and improve financial performance. In addition, prior studies explained that a firm’s CSR activities can have a positive effect on financial performance by increasing employees’ commitment to their firm. The purpose of this study research is to examine the effect of CSR activities on sustainable employability through empirical analysis. We measured the sustainable employability using the percentage of regular employees and then examined the effect of CSR activities on sustainable employability using 3802 firm-year data for Korean listed firms. From the empirical results, we found that firms engaging in CSR activities improve more in terms of sustainable employability than do firms who are not engaging in CSR activities. We also found that the companies engaging in a high CSR index score showed greater sustainable employability than did those with a low CSR index score. The results of this study suggested a way to increase sustainability in terms of employment by supporting a rational basis for companies to adopt CSR. These findings are expected to contribute to academia and the capital market by providing empirical evidence that a company’s CSR activities have a positive impact on sustainable employability.
  • The Convergence between Sustainability and Conventional Stock Indices. Are We on the Right Track?

    Pablo Vilas; Laura Andreu; José Luis Sarto (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The growth of passive and socially responsible (SR) investment makes that sustainability indices play an important role in defining what constitutes a sustainable investment. In order to know the suitability of sustainability indices as benchmarks for SR investors, we used different linear regressions to compare the compositions of sustainability indices and their conventional counterparts and to compare the levels of corporate social responsibility (CSR) of both types of indices. We showed that the composition of sustainability indices gradually converged towards their conventional peers. Moreover, the difference between the CSR levels of both type of indices remained the same or even decreased over time. We concluded that a change in the weighting method of sustainability indices such as the equally weighted criterion would significantly increase the difference from their conventional counterparts. However, due to the relationship between CSR and size, this change would penalize the CSR level of the index. These results raise the question of whether SR passive investors will be able to meet their non-financial expectations as a consequence of the convergence.
  • Relationships between Environmental Initiatives and Impact Reductions for Construction Companies

    Andrew S. Chang; Claudia Canelas; Yi-Ling Chen (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    A company undertakes environmental initiatives to reduce environmental impact from their activities; however, the impact reduction effect of these initiatives is not clear. This study investigated the environmental initiatives and impact indicators disclosed in forty corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports of construction companies and determined the relationships between the initiatives and indicators. The results demonstrated that the likelihood of an initiative reducing environmental impacts was approximately 25% on average, meaning that one in four companies was able to successfully implement initiatives. The energy consumption reduction from initiatives had the highest probability, at 40%, and water consumption reduction had only 9.4%. This study contributes to making explicit relationships between initiatives and impact reductions possible. A company can verify the effectiveness of initiatives by examining the values of their corresponding indicators before implementing environmental initiatives.
  • Internal Corporate Social Responsibility for Sustainability

    M. Isabel Sánchez-Hernández; Jose Luis Vázquez-Burguete; Maria P. García-Miguélez; Ana Lanero-Carrizo (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The recent attention paid to internal corporate social responsibility (ICSR) observed in the academic literature has been paralleled by an increased focus thereof in management, to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A bibliometric examination of the literature on ICSR and a complementary content analysis with ATLAS.ti revealed that the topic was largely neglected until 2014 but has now reached a consolidation stage. The main contribution of this paper was to conceptualize ICSR within the current theoretical paradigm of sustainability. The obtained results demonstrate that sustainable management requires attention to internal practices such as employee well-being and engagement. We anticipate that very soon, organizations will be directly involved in the SDG agenda through ICSR.
  • Time-Based Corporate-Social-Responsibility Evaluation Model Taking Chinese Listed Forestry Companies as an Example

    Xinfei Li; Baodong Cheng; Heng Xu (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    With the rapid development of the economy, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is receiving increasing attention from companies themselves, but also increasing attention from society as a whole. How to reasonably evaluate the performance of CSR is a current research hotspot. Existing corporate-social-responsibility evaluation methods mostly focus on the static evaluation of enterprises in the industry, and do not take the time factor into account, which cannot reflect the performance of long-term CSR. On this basis, this article proposes a time-based entropy method that can evaluate long-term changes in CSR. Studies have shown that the completion of CSR in a static state does not necessarily reflect the dynamic and increasing trend of CSR in the long term. Therefore, the assessment of CSR should consider both the static and dynamic aspects of a company. In addition, the research provides the focus of different types of forestry enterprises in fulfilling CSR in the long term, and provides a clearer information path for the standard identification and normative constraints of different types of forestry enterprises CSR.
  • The “Christology” of Bely the Anthroposophist: Andrei Bely, Rudolf Steiner, and the Apostle Paul

    Monika Spivak (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
    The article focuses on R. Steiner’s perception of the Gospels and the impact of that view on Bely’s works. The latter had always valued Steiner’s lectures on Christ and the Fifth Gospel, the “Anthroposophic” (relating to the philosophy of human genesis, existence, and outcome) Gospel, the knowledge of which had been received in a visionary way. In addition, Bely was an esoteric follower of Steiner and often quoted from Apostle Paul’s 2 Corinthians, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men”. The citation occurs in Bely’s philosophical works (<i>The History of the Formation of the Self-Conscious Soul</i>, “Crisis of Consciousness”), autobiographic prose <i>(Reminiscences of Steiner)</i>, the essay “Why I Became a Symbolist…”, and letters (to Ivanov-Razumnik and Fedor Gladkov). Bely’s own anthroposophic and esoteric ideas relating to the gospel sayings are also examined. The aim of the research is to show through the example of one quotation the specifics of Bely the Anthroposophist’s perception of Christian texts in general. This provides a methodological meaning for understanding other Biblical quotations and images in the works of Bely because anthroposophical Christology is also the key to their deciphering.

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