A meta-synthesis of bibliometric reviews of research on managing for sustainability, 1982-2019

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This review of research used meta-synthesis to integrate findings from seven bibliometric reviews of research on managing for sustainability in different management disciplines: leadership, human resource management, entrepreneurship management, innovation management, supply chain management, knowledge management, and strategic management. The purposes of the review were to document empirically key features of this knowledge base as well as to identify leading journals, and documents. The meta-synthesis analyzed bibliographic data associated with 9927 relevant documents sourced from the Scopus index. The review confirmed the existence of a large body of management research on sustainability. This research, which first emerged during the 1980s, has grown exponentially since 2010. Although authorship of this corpus has been concentrated in Anglo- American-European (AAE) societies (60%), the authors of this corpus represent 140 different societies. Moreover, there is a recent trend of increasing contributions from developing societies such as China, India, Malaysia, Brazil, and South Africa. There are large differences in the “between-discipline” proportion of research produced on sustainability topics, with knowledge management and supply chain management evidencing the largest and human resource management the smallest proportions of this literature. The review also provided insight into the most influential journals (e.g., Journal of Cleaner Production, Sustainability, International Journal of Production Economics, Business Strategy and the Environment) and documents in the literature on managing for sustainability. Document co-citation analysis yielded three key conceptual themes within this literature: Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Strategic Management of Resources for Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship. This analysis further highlighted the central role that strategic management theories have played in shaping sustainability discourse across the different management disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3469
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021


  • Bibliometric
  • Management
  • Review
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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