The Evolution of Sustainability Measurement Research

35 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2018

See all articles by Matteo Mura

Matteo Mura

Department of Management - University of Bologna

Mariolina Longo

University of Bologna

Pietro Micheli

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Daniela Bolzani

University of Bologna

Date Written: July 2018

Abstract

Research in sustainability measurement has been growing at a very high pace over the past years, and it has explored a variety of issues, from sustainability disclosure to measurement in green supply chains, from the diffusion of environmental standards to the political use of sustainability metrics. This study is the first to report and discuss the results of a comprehensive review of the sustainability measurement literature. In particular, the authors adopt a wide conceptualization of the measurement process, and analyze data through a bibliometric method–bibliographic coupling. The results show that the literature is divided into eight distinct areas of inquiry and 12 sub‐fields, some of which have expanded significantly over recent years, and others appear to be waning. Furthermore, the lack of a comprehensive view of sustainability measurement has led to the development of many separate communities, resulting in duplications of effort, incomplete framing of the problem, and the proposal of partial solutions. However, findings drawn in sustainability measurement research could inform current debates in performance measurement and management in three main ways: by emphasizing stakeholders’ roles in the design, implementation and use of measures; by indicating ways to establish common measures and sharing data between organizations; and by adopting novel theoretical perspectives. Equally, future sustainability measurement studies could benefit from consideration of extant research on strategic performance measurement and on the behavioral effects of measurement practices.

Suggested Citation

Mura, Matteo and Longo, Mariolina and Micheli, Pietro and Bolzani, Daniela, The Evolution of Sustainability Measurement Research (July 2018). International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 20, Issue 3, pp. 661-695, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3207856 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12179

Matteo Mura (Contact Author)

Department of Management - University of Bologna ( email )

Via Capo di Lucca 34
Bologna, 40126
Italy

Mariolina Longo

University of Bologna

Pietro Micheli

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Daniela Bolzani

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40100
Italy

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