Looking Back, Looking Forward: Scientometric Analysis of 47 Years of Sustainability Research
77 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 15, 2020
This study provides an overview of past, present, and future sustainability research with a specific focus on corporate sustainability and responsibility. We conduct a systematic review (i.e., scientometric analysis or science mapping) of 26,111 Web of Science articles on sustainability, environmental, social, and governance (ESG), and corporate social responsibility (CSR) published from 1973 through 2019. Our findings reveal how sustainability research has evolved to integrate ESG and sustainability into traditional business and investment models. We first provide an extensive review of how sustainability research has evolved to clarify the relationship between corporate sustainability and its impact. We classify Period 1: Dawn of Diverse Ideas (1979-2005), Period 2: Rise of Conceptual Frameworks (2006-2011), Period 3: Era of Heterogeneity (2012-2015), and Period 4: Age of Stakeholder Engagement (2016-2019), and discuss how drivers, strategies, and expected impacts of corporate sustainability have changed and how perspective changes have altered the research subject. We conclude with some personal observations regarding important issues in the practice of sustainability today from a capital market perspective, and raise the question of what future scientometric analysis will show about the relevance of research being done today for the issues practitioners are grappling with.
Keywords: Corporate Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, ESG Integration, Sustainable Investing, Sustainable Development, Scientometric Analysis
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