Analyzing the intellectual structure of the Knowledge base on managing for sustainability, 1982–2019: A meta-analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Although there have been numerous reviews of sustainability research in functional management disciplines, few reviews have examined this literature from a multidisciplinary perspective. This meta-analysis integrated data and findings extracted from bibliometric reviews of research on managing for sustainability in seven different management disciplines: leadership, human resource management, entrepreneurship, innovation management, supply chain management, knowledge management, and strategic management. The meta-analysis analyzed secondary bibliographic data associated with 9,476 Scopus-indexed documents sourced in the seven reviews. The review found wide variability in the levels of scholarly engagement with sustainability issues across the seven disciplines. This finding was confirmed by the number of sustainability-related documents identified in the different management disciplines, as well as by author productivity, citation and cocitation analyses. Among the seven fields of management research, scholars in supply chain management evidenced the strongest engagement with sustainability research. Using a similar combination of metrics, the review identified the most influential scholars in this the multidisciplinary management literature: Joseph Sarkis, Stefan Seuring, Stefan Schaltegger, Qingyun Zhu, Kannan Govindan, Michael Porter, and John Elkington. Author cocitation analysis of the intellectual structure of this literature found that the most influential “school of thought” was associated with “sustainable supply chain management”. Author cocitation analysis further identified core concepts that have emerged within and across these domains of sustainability management. The most influential multidisciplinary sustainability concepts, largely associated with strategic management, included resource-based perspective, dynamic capabilities, competitive advantage, shared value, balanced scorecard, absorptive capacity, and triple bottom-line.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1493-1506
Number of pages14
JournalSustainable Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • bibliometric
  • management
  • meta-analysis intellectual structure
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Development


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