The work proposes an overview of the process and the models relative to the diffusion of CSR and sustainability based on a public-private involvement. The multilevel and multidimensional approach to CSR and sustainable growth can be interpreted as a specific model of territorial social responsibility which is based on the rise of paths of local governance and social innovation whose protagonists are members of a localized network. Starting from these premises and drawing from the reflections developed in previous works this paper intends to add new perspectives on the current debate by presenting a comparative analysis based on Italian case-studies related to CSR and sustainability-driven best practices which are being developed in two Italian areas (notably the Marches and Emilia Romagna Regions). The selected projects started even before the discussion on multilevel and territorial governance begun at the national and international level and they are highly innovative and dynamic since over the years their objectives have become progressively enriched and adapted. Using a qualitative-based approach the empirical analysis focuses on both the weaknesses and strengths, as well as on the similarities and differences of these bottom-up approaches of territorial responsibility and sustainability. Findings underline the effectiveness of approaches and tools which are not disconnected from specific local (anthropological, cultural and socio-economic) dynamics. Territorial pathways of CSR and sustainability seem more suited to lead and preserve sustainability over time. Accordingly , in the analysis of sustainable development processes, a priority should be attributed to the territorial dimension since it contains all combined factors (human and environmental resources, entrepreneurial and social creativity) which generate processes of social innovation. At the same time, these innovative pathways that are capable of generating social innovation underline the urgency of new theoretical constructs which take into account a maturity model of CSR/sustainability based on different stages and actors involved in CSR and sustainability-oriented projects. The chapter is organized into three main sections: the first presents the theoretical framework, the second describes the empirical analysis, while discussion and conclusions summarize the main theoretical propositions and empirical implications of the present research and offer insights useful for further investigation.
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