Research in sustainability measurement has been growing at a very high pace over the past years, and it has explored a variety of issues, from sustainability disclosure to measurement in green supply chains, from the diffusion of environmental standards to the political use of sustainability metrics. This study is the first to report and discuss the results of a comprehensive review of the sustainability measurement literature. In particular, we adopt a wide conceptualization of the measurement process, and analyze data through a bibliometric method - bibliographic coupling. Our results show that the literature is divided into eight distinct areas of inquiry and 12 sub-fields, some of which have expanded significantly over recent years, and others appear to be waning. Furthermore, the lack of a comprehensive view of sustainability measurement has led to the development of many separate communities, resulting in duplications of effort, incomplete framing of the problem, and the proposal of partial solutions. However, findings drawn in sustainability measurement research could inform current debates in performance measurement and management in three main ways: by emphasizing stakeholders’ roles in the design, implementation and use of measures; by indicating ways to establish common measures and sharing data between organizations; and by adopting novel theoretical perspectives. Equally, future sustainability measurement studies could benefit from consideration of extant research on strategic performance measurement and on the behavioral effects of measurement practices.
- bibliographic coupling