Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2012

Finding the God Particle of the Sustainability Business Case: Greener Pastures for Shareholder Value

by Marc L Bertoneche and Cornis van der Lugt

Abstract

The start of the 2000s saw a flurry of international publications on "the business case" for sustainability, seeking to map out the returns on investment and to differentiate recommended actions from cases of corporate philanthropy. Reports by business organisations and others identified different categories of justifications, incentives, benefits and levels of making the business case. 1) Research over the last decade has pointed to a complex relation between sustainability and financial performance. 2) Results have been influenced by different input and output variables applied, by what is defined as: "sustainability" or "socially responsible" actions, the scope of the agenda covered and the definition of what is the ultimate goal (e.g. increased profit, shareholder value or longer term success and value of the business).

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Performance; Environmental Sustainability;

Citation:

Bertoneche, Marc L., and Cornis van der Lugt. "Finding the God Particle of the Sustainability Business Case: Greener Pastures for Shareholder Value." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-072, February 2013.