This paper analyzes the role of the concept of “profit” as a paradigm in the evolution of business study and, in particular, of studies on corporate social responsibility (CSR). It seems that both stockholder and stakeholder view have been framed under this paradigm: they are based on an individualistic idea of human person and they have founded managerial theories on utilitarism. The paradigm of profit is, also, settled into corporate social responsibility and is not able to explain completely the firm phenomenology, above all hybrid organizations as cooperatives, mission oriented (or value-driven) organizations, SME and family business, that cannot be merely classified into the so-called “third sector”. The paper takes in exam the most pervasive critics to mainstream theories and analyzes the possible “innovative” role of the concept of “istituto sociale” – typical of Italian “Economia Aziendale” – to renewing the CSR. The Italian managerial thought is an “unicum” in the field of business studies, but it could have an important role according to his personalistic view of firm, business ethics and corporate social responsibility. The article contains the output of a theoretical research, based both on business administration literature (Italian and interna-tional) and on an interdisciplinary approach. The research underlines how the concept of “istituto sociale” could help the scientific debate to reformulate the concept of corporate social responsibility; in particular, the category of “istituto sociale” fosters an anthropological and holistic view of the firm, that could understand better firm phenomenology and organizational behavior. At the end, the article points out how the concept of “istituto sociale” challenges business administration and business ethics on different theoretical and operative aspects of man-agement. The article promotes an ongoing dialogue between international mainstream theory on CSR and the Italian “Economia Aziendale”: so, the research contributes to create a conceptual framework about CSR that endorses Italian tradition in the international scientific debate
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