Business is an essential part of society. Companies supply products and services to meet society’s needs and contribute to economic development and employment. But they may also pose a risk to society, for example if their products harm public health, their production methods are unsustainable or they avoid paying taxes. How can businesses flourish while making the best possible contribution to Dutch society? That is the central question in the WRR’s Business and Society project.
In this research we will therefore examine the social contribution of Dutch business. A lot appears to have changed in this area in recent decades. Globalization, flexibilization and the growing influence of financial motives seem to be heightening the tension between the interests of business and those of society. At the same time, companies are taking the initiative to contribute to the public good, bringing these interests into closer harmony. Businesses are also coming under social scrutiny in areas such as sustainable economic development, combating inequality and improving the quality of employment. What can Dutch society expect from companies? And what are companies willing and able to do themselves to contribute to society?
A good relationship between business and society is vital for both sides, but it cannot be taken for granted. The WRR has included this project in its work programme to contribute to the debate on ways to future-proof this relationship.