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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 30 May 2024

Nadja Fugleberg Damtoft, Dennis van Liempd and Rainer Lueg

Researchers and practitioners have recently been interested in corporate sustainability performance (CSP). However, knowledge on measuring CSP is limited. Many CSP-measurements…

Abstract

Purpose

Researchers and practitioners have recently been interested in corporate sustainability performance (CSP). However, knowledge on measuring CSP is limited. Many CSP-measurements are eclectic, without guidance for contextual applications. This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework that categorizes, explains and evaluates measurements based on their accuracy and precision and provides a guideline for their context-specific application.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a systematic literature review of an initial sample of 1,415 papers.

Findings

The final sample of 74 papers suggested four measurement categories: isolated indicators, indicator frameworks, Sustainability Balanced Scorecards (SBSC) and Sustainability Performance Measurement Systems (SPMS). The analysis reveals that isolated indicators are inaccurate and imprecise, limiting their application to organizations with delimited, specific measurements of parts of CSP due to the risk of a GIGO-effect (i.e. low-quality input will always produce low-quality output). CSP-indicator frameworks are imprecise but accurate, making them applicable to organizations that handle a more significant amount of CSP data. They have a risk of greensplashing, i.e. many indicators not connected to the industry, organization or strategy. In contrast, SBSCs are precise but inaccurate and valuable for organizations desiring a comprehensive strategic management tool with limited capacity to handle sustainability issues. They pose a risk of the streetlight effect, where organisations do not measure relevant indicators but what is easy to measure.

Originality/value

The ideal CSP-measurement was identified as SPMSs, which are both precise and accurate. SPMSs are useful for organizations with complex, comprehensive, connected and tailored indicators but are methodologically challenging.

Details

Journal of Global Responsibility, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2041-2568

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