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The transformation of corporate sustainability model in the context of achieving the UN SDGs: evidence from the leading Russian companies

Yury E. Blagov (Graduate School of Management, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Anastasia A. Petrova-Savchenko (Graduate School of Management, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 10 November 2020

Issue publication date: 8 March 2021

1185

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the current status and identify the main trends in leading Russian companies’ corporate sustainability model transformation in the context of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Design/methodology/approach

A theoretical approach is based on the interpretation of corporate sustainability model transformation within the corporate social performance (CSP) framework. The corporate sustainability model is described according to Dyllick and Muff (2016) business sustainability (BST) 1.0-3.0 spectrum. The analysis is settled on survey data collected from leading Russian companies participated in the “Report on Social Investments in Russia” project conducted by the Russian Managers Association from 2008 to 2019.

Findings

This paper finds that the BST 2.0 is becoming a dominant model based on the “creating shared value” goal. The related CSP is characterized by their orientation to the principles of the UN Global Compact; by the emergence of a coordinating role for specialized departments of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or sustainability; and by the regular sustainability reporting. The SDGs are generally correlated with responsible business practices that are already in existence in companies. The emerging trend towards the advanced BST 3.0 model including the SDGs integration into the main business processes is constrained by the lack of active cooperation between companies.

Research limitations/implications

The research sample includes only large Russian companies with a significant industry diversity, participating in the “Report on Social Investments in Russia” project, thereby restricting the analysis of non-participants. The relatively low repetition of participants in this long-term project does also restrict the degree of generalization. Future research could be based on the findings of this paper to create and test hypotheses via a nationwide study of Russian businesses as well as cross-national comparative studies.

Practical implications

The analysis of the corporate sustainability model transformation through studying the key CSP framework elements could support Russian companies in creating systemic changes of their principles, processes and outcomes measurements in the context of achieving the UN SDGs.

Originality/value

This study contributes to existing literature by combining the corporate sustainability model transformation analysis with the CSP framework. It describes the experience of large Russian companies that publicly position themselves as national leaders in the field of CSR and sustainable development.

Keywords

Citation

Blagov, Y.E. and Petrova-Savchenko, A.A. (2021), "The transformation of corporate sustainability model in the context of achieving the UN SDGs: evidence from the leading Russian companies", Corporate Governance, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 307-321. https://doi.org/10.1108/CG-01-2020-0047

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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