Sustainability as a source of competitive advantage’ The case of Maddalena S.p.A. is the subject of a master’s degree thesis

November 8th, 2023

“Sustainability as a source of competitive advantage: the case of Maddalena S.p.A.” is the title of Giada Pasinetti’s dissertation, a brilliant student who graduated in October with top marks and with honors, in International Marketing, Management and Organization at the University of Udine. The thesis was supervised by Raffaella Tabacco, professor of Innovation Management, Management for Sustainable Businesses and International Sales and Logistics at the faculty, and co-advised by Arianna Arizzi, Marketing and Sustainability Manager at Maddalena S.p.A.

The opportunity to carry out a curricular internship in the company’s Marketing and Sustainability department proved to be the perfect ground for developing this dissertation that explores the relevance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within the European Union and the role of companies, which become the main actors to be involved in this path, given the strong impact their activities can have on the environment and on the choices of stakeholders operating within the market.

During her 150-hour stay at the company, Giada got to the heart of the topic of Sustainability, participating first-hand in meetings and events, as well as attending the presentation of the company’s first Sustainability Report and collaborating in the internal and external audits that Maddalena S.p.A. underwent for the renewal of the SA8000 Ethical Certification.

The experience was really interesting and educational and allowed me to get closer to the topic of Sustainability, which is becoming increasingly important in all sectors, both nationally and internationally. The interest was such that I immediately accepted the suggestion of my company tutor, who proposed me to write a thesis that would allow me to delve further into this topic and to understand how sustainability itself – which is often perceived as a cost rather than as an investment – can represent a real source of competitive advantage for companies”, Giada commented.

In particular, the dissertation focused on demonstrating the importance of Sustainability in the market in order to highlight the advantages that companies that decide to invest more in sustainable growth can obtain and, consequently, how Sustainability itself can be considered a source of growth and differentiation.

At the beginning of the paper, the concept of Sustainability is clarified, reporting advantages and risks, as well as the recent Italian and European regulations aimed at regulating the topic, focusing on the business world and, in particular, on the importance of integrating this concept within the business strategy of the company itself. The paper proceeds with an in-depth examination of some useful tools for reporting on corporate sustainability strategy, such as the UN 2030 Agenda, the sustainability report, the SA8000 ethical certification and the framework proposed by Taticchi and De Martini (2021) aimed at analyzing a company’s sustainability strategy. These are all useful tools for moving from an unconscious sustainability – practiced but not recognized – to a conscious sustainability – practiced, recognized and communicated – as well as for increasing the transparency with which information is communicated to stakeholders and, consequently, also the trust they place in the company.

Lastly, the third chapter is dedicated entirely to Maddalena S.p.A., and in particular to the various steps that have led the Company to overcome the commonplace often widespread among companies that leads them to consider Sustainability as a cost rather than as an investment for the future.

An analysis of Maddalena S.p.A.’s sustainability path clearly shows how, in a period like todays, when sustainable development choices are still in their early stages, it is important for a company to align itself with market requirements. In fact, companies that manage to adapt their business model to the sustainability strategy are able to achieve various benefits such as cost reduction, process efficiency, better relationships with stakeholders, fiscal benefits and, in the long-term, even the achievement of a competitive advantage.

These concepts are also fully demonstrated by the recent recognition of Maddalena S.p.A. among the 100 Top Performers for Sustainability in Italy in the Forbes Italy ranking.

Congratulations Giada, we wish you a bright and fulfilling future!

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