Looking Back, Looking Forward: Scientometric Analysis of 47 Years of Sustainability Research

77 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2020

See all articles by Soh Young In

Soh Young In

Stanford University - School of Engineering; Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University

Young Joon Lee

Cheju Halla University

Robert G. Eccles

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: September 15, 2020

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

In, Soh Young and Lee, Young Joon and Eccles, Robert G., Looking Back, Looking Forward: Scientometric Analysis of 47 Years of Sustainability Research (September 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3693254 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3693254

Soh Young In (Contact Author)

Stanford University - School of Engineering ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-9025
United States

Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University ( email )

473 Via Ortega, Suite 324
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://energy.stanford.edu/

Young Joon Lee

Cheju Halla University ( email )

Halla University Rd. 38
Jeju, Jeju
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
+82-64-741-6532 (Phone)

Robert G. Eccles

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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