Firms and sustainability: mapping the intellectual origins and structure of the corporate sustainability field

Linnenluecke, Martina K. and Griffiths, Andrew (2013) Firms and sustainability: mapping the intellectual origins and structure of the corporate sustainability field. Global Environmental Change, 23 1: 382-391. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.07.007

Author Linnenluecke, Martina K.
Griffiths, Andrew
Title Firms and sustainability: mapping the intellectual origins and structure of the corporate sustainability field
Journal name Global Environmental Change   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0959-3780
Publication date 2013-02
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.07.007
Volume 23
Issue 1
Start page 382
End page 391
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Business research has repeatedly been criticized for its lack of engagement with pressing issues such as climate change, despite a surge of publications on corporate sustainability topics in recent years. We are therefore interested in identifying the knowledge development and knowledge gaps in business scholarship on the relationship between firms, environment and society. This paper provides a systematic review of the corporate sustainability field in form of a bibliometric analysis based on citation data acquired from the Social Sciences Citation Index. The final dataset contained 3117 records published between 1953 and 2011. Our analysis shows that, over the last 50 years, the field of corporate sustainability has emerged from a few primary nodes of research and developed into four distinct conceptual genealogies: corporate social performance theory, stakeholder theory, a corporate social performance versus economic performance debate, and a greening of management debate. The results of our analysis suggest four key findings. First, the four genealogies only comprise a relatively narrowly focused research scope. Second, there is very little integration and citation of work in other disciplinary areas such as ecology or environmental science. Third, the existing literature has a strong focus on empirically examining the relationship between a firm's environmental and/or social performance and its financial performance. Finally, there is little consideration of managerial implications and consequences of climate change in the corporate sustainability literature to date. We suggest that while this may be a reflection of an insular field, it may also be a role played by the management literature turning away from problem based issues in favor of empirical results, theory building, and the identification of variables that influence firm profitability and can be subjected to direct managerial control. We conclude by outlining pathways for future research.
Keyword Bibliometric analysis
Climate change
Corporate social performance
Corporate social responsibility
Corporate sustainability
Stakeholder theory
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 28 August 2012

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 9 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 12 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 12 Aug 2012, 01:01:06 EST by Dr Martina Linnenluecke on behalf of UQ Business School