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Sustainability-oriented strategy and Sustainable Development Goals

Priscila Borin de Oliveira Claro (Insper Business School, Insper, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Nathalia Ramajo Esteves (Business and Economics, Insper, Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 14 January 2021

Issue publication date: 12 May 2021




Sustainability-oriented strategies involve considering all possible environmental, social and economic factors that impact stakeholders and sustainable development. They could be a crucial contribution of the private sector to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study’s objective is twofolded. First, the authors want to discover if enterprises doing business in Brazil are contemplating the SDGs in their strategies. Second, the authors want to identify the external and internal factors that motivate them.


The authors collected data through an online survey with employees from Global Compact signatories in Brazil. From a list of 335 for-profit enterprises, the authors got back 132 answers. The sample comprises Brazilian enterprises that only operate in the Brazilian market, Brazilian multinational enterprises (MNEs) and foreign multinationals operating in Brazilian and international markets. For this study, the MNEs’ group comprises Brazilian multinationals and foreign multinationals (MNEs). To characterize the sample and identify the motivating factors, the authors conducted a descriptive analysis. To compare the domestic and MNEs’ mean differences regarding the factors that influenced their strategies and the SDGs, the authors performed Mann–Whitney's U-test.


The results of the study show that enterprises are addressing the SDGs in their strategies. All internal and external driving factors are similar for domestic and MNEs, except for the value chain's negative externalities. MNEs are more prone to consider their negative externalities, which is a positive trend. Finally, results suggest that both groups of enterprises consider the 17 goals in their strategies, contrary to the theoretical argument that multinationals suffer more pressure because of their broad geographic scope.

Research limitations/implications

The database of the study involves data collected through a self-response survey. Thus, the authors cannot discuss the effectiveness of real SDGs' strategies once enterprises' discourse on sustainability does not always correspond with practices. Therefore, the authors suggest that researchers address the results of implemented strategies on the SDGs over time to check for improvements and new developments.

Practical implications

The authors suggest frequent materiality assessment of domestic enterprises' supply chain and articulation of explicit purposes around the selected SDGs, including setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitoring progress.

Social implications

The authors believe that enterprises and decision makers should recognize their essential role to bend the curve on SDGs and shift their behavior toward strategic choices that could contribute to their positive performance over time, without contributing to environmental degradation and socioeconomic chaos.


Publication on how enterprises address the SDGs in Brazil is relatively scarce. This study provides some answers to that by focusing on the factors influencing sustainability-oriented strategies on the SDGs. Besides, most previous studies consider a small sample of enterprises and are industry specific or focus on the effects of the SDGs in public policy. The sample of this study is diverse and represents 42% of the for-profit signatories of the Global Compact in Brazil.



Claro, P.B.d.O. and Esteves, N.R. (2021), "Sustainability-oriented strategy and Sustainable Development Goals", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 613-630.



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