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ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) Strategies, Consumer Behaviour and Community Participation in the Digital Age

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 July 2024 | Viewed by 8582

Special Issue Editors

Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration Department, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Homantin, Hong Kong SAR, China
Interests: business ethics; corporate governance; innovation; marketing; customer behaviour
Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration Department, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Homantin, Hong Kong SAR, China
Interests: conflict management; post-FDI disputes; corporate governance; social value creation of enterprises; ESG reporting
Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration Department, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Homantin, Hong Kong SAR, China
Interests: sustainable development; applied econometrics; foreign direct investment
Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration Department, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Homantin, Hong Kong SAR, China
Interests: international business strategy; innovation; entrepreneurship and digitalisation in emerging markets
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The ESG (environment, social and governance) movement primarily started from the greater public and community demands regarding the societal impacts made by companies. It has evolved to focus on investors’ demands that businesses accept accountability for their environmental, social, and governance practices to safeguard investors’ long-term investment (Stephenson et al., 2021). Gradually, it has overtaken CSR (corporate social responsibility) and its variants as the primary framework for judging a firm’s societal and environmental footprints (Gillan, Koch & Starks, 2021).

The ESG movement has been gaining momentum in the digital age as more highly informed and conscious consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of supporting companies that achieve and maintain strong ESG performance (Etter, Fieseler, & Whelan, 2019). However, there is little evidence that consumer support has spilled over into the daily routines of an average consumer. The rewards of consuming products from providers of environmental or social impacts have not been considered a boon by the average consumer. To take a step further, we should also include community wellbeing into ESG approaches, which firms need to involve in different layers of strategy (Suzanne, Jo & Belinda, 2011). Furthermore, the debate on the manifestations of actual or perceived benefits does not often extend well beyond the academic environment. Similarly, when a significant number of consumers have indicated that they would avoid consuming products from companies with a negative environmental or social impact, realizing such a consequence is difficult to measure, if not entirely philosophical. The marketing performance of the ESG movement still needs more evidence in various industries (Paolone, et al, 2021).

On the other hand, ESG ratings are usually measured by rating agencies that also offer credit rating services. These rating agencies assess companies’ ESG performance based on various factors. The selection criteria often relate ESG performance to credit rating and/or market performance (Buallay, Al-Ajmi, & Barone, 2021; Garcia & Orsato, 2020). Given marketers’ longstanding inability to quantify consumers’ impacts, the degree to which consumers are given priority to competing stakeholder claims and interests has been somewhat neglectful (Ramasamy et al., 2010). In particular, researchers have had much greater success when aligning ESG metrics with investment solutions and less when aligning ESG efforts with consumer perceptions.

We perceived the rising need for better aligning ESG efforts with consumer perception and repositioning consumers’ rightful place in stakeholder salience and community engagement from a broader perspective. Especially for customer-based companies that are required to satisfy new digital-age consumers, several research topics emerge and are worth our renewed attention, which the present Special Issue seeks to address. The range of research areas for inquiry includes, but is not limited to, the following aspects:

  1. To what extent can customer behaviour influence a firm’s ESG marketing strategy?
  2. To what extent can a firm’s ESG policies influence customer behaviour?
  3. To what extent do a firm’s ESG metrics influence buying decisions?
  4. What are the industry-specific ESG issues concerning consumer rights and protections in the digital age?
  5. What are the moderating factors affecting the relationship between ESG efforts and consumer support for ESG?
  6. How should organizations engage their consumers to align perceptions to customer support?
  7. What are the specific customer behaviours that influence a firm’s ESG policy and performance?
  8. How do digital customers differ from traditional customers in influencing a firm’ ESG policies and performance?
  9. Is there a protocol for integrating customer perspective into an organization’s ESG strategies and performance?
  10. What have been the best practices for integrating consumers into ESG strategies in the digital age?
  11. How do organizations actively involve customers and communities as knowledgeable active participants in co-value creation?
  12. How should organizations use their ESG performance as an image-management tool to influence their customers?
  13. What are the post-COVID-19 developments in consumer behaviour and participation in ESG strategies and ESG performance?
  14. What are the challenges and practical solutions to navigate the evolving nature of ESG obligations and risks?

This Special Issue will give preference to studies which provide a collective new ground that will become the foundation for an interest in sustainable development in the future. We expect that the results of the selected studies will help to advance theories or strategies and/or put theories into practice.

Buallay, A., Al-Ajmi, J., & Barone, E. (2021). Sustainability engagement’s impact on tourism sector performance: linear and nonlinear models. Journal of Organizational Change Management. doi:10.1108/jocm-10-2020-0308

Campin, S., Barraket, J., & Luke, B. (2013). Micro-business community responsibility in australia: Approaches, motivations and barriers: Jbe. Journal of Business Ethics, 115(3), 489-513. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-012-1396-1

Etter, M., Fieseler, C., & Whelan, G. (2019). Sharing Economy, Sharing Responsibility? Corporate Social Responsibility in the Digital Age: JBE. Journal of Business Ethics, 159(4), 935-942. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04212-w

Garcia, A. S., & Orsato, R. J. (2020). Testing the institutional difference hypothesis: A study about environmental, social, governance, and financial performance. Business Strategy and the Environment, 29(8), 3261-3272. doi:10.1002/bse.2570

Gillan, S.L., Koch, A. Starks, L.T. (2021) Firms and social responsibility: A review of ESG and CSR research in corporate finance, Journal of Corporate Finance, 66, 10189.

Paolone, F., Cucari, N., Wu, J., & Tiscini, R. (2021). How do ESG pillars impact firms’ marketing performance? A configurational analysis in the pharmaceutical sector. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 37(8), 1594-1606. doi:10.1108/jbim-07-2020-0356

Ramasamy, B., Yeung, M.C.H. & Au, A.K.M. (2010) Consumer Support for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The Role of Religion and Values. Journal of Business Ethics91 (Suppl 1), 61–72.

Stephenson, M., Hamid, M. F. S., Peter, A., Sauvant, K. P., Seric, A., & Tajoli, L. (2021). More and better investment now! How unlocking sustainable and digital investment flows can help achieve the SDGs. Journal of International Business Policy, 4(1), 152-165. doi:10.1057/s42214-020-00094-2

Prof. Dr. Alan KM AU
Dr. Nina Xie
Dr. Matthew Yeung
Dr. Leven Jianwen Zheng
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable development
  • ESG and consumer-oriented companies
  • driving consumer preference using ESG
  • modern digital consumer behaviour
  • community involvement

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 2951 KiB  
Article
ESG Reporting and Metrics: From Double Materiality to Key Performance Indicators
Sustainability 2023, 15(24), 16844; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152416844 - 14 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1768
Abstract
This article conceptualises the link between firms’ value chains and distribution networks and the requirements for double-materiality assessments in contemporary reporting regulations worldwide. The new European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and the standards for sustainability reporting issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board [...] Read more.
This article conceptualises the link between firms’ value chains and distribution networks and the requirements for double-materiality assessments in contemporary reporting regulations worldwide. The new European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and the standards for sustainability reporting issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), called IFRS S1 and IFRS S2, require companies to report their own direct (scope 1) and indirect (scope 2) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as GHG emissions in their value chains and distribution networks (both scope 3). However, GHG emissions comprise just one dimension of information that is relevant to understand when assessing, managing and reporting the footprints and impacts of a firm and are, therefore, only a fraction of the key performance indicators (KPIs) related to ESG that should be disclosed. Through a case study, this article demonstrates the connection between a due diligence analysis of a firm’s value chains and distribution networks; an analysis of the competitive parameters of its business model; the identified impacts, risks and opportunities; and the double-materiality perspective. The double-materiality perspective prioritises actions based on probability and significance, creating a natural space to identify KPIs. The implication of this study is that firms can be assisted in identifying relevant KPIs based on double-materiality assessments aided by applying the REGS model because it guides firms in choosing the most relevant KPIs. Full article
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18 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Study on the Impact of Corporate ESG Performance on Green Innovation Performance—Evidence from Listed Companies in China A-Shares
Sustainability 2023, 15(20), 14750; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152014750 - 11 Oct 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1601
Abstract
With the establishment of China’s “dual carbon” target and the promotion of high-quality development strategy, the role of green innovation has become increasingly important. Corporate ESG innovation, as a guiding principle for companies to practice sustainable development and an important signal for evaluating [...] Read more.
With the establishment of China’s “dual carbon” target and the promotion of high-quality development strategy, the role of green innovation has become increasingly important. Corporate ESG innovation, as a guiding principle for companies to practice sustainable development and an important signal for evaluating their environmental and social responsibilities as well as corporate governance level, deserves in-depth research on its impact on green innovation performance. This paper empirically analyzes the green innovation effect of corporate ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) performance using Chinese A-share listed companies as a sample from 2009 to 2021. The research shows that corporate ESG performance can enhance green innovation performance. Mechanism analysis reveals that ESG performance mainly improves green innovation performance by alleviating financing constraints and enhancing human capital. Further research shows that all three sub-dimensions of ESG performance contribute to improving green innovation performance, with the strongest effect observed in corporate governance performance. ESG performance not only enhances strategic green innovation performance and independent green innovation performance but also improves substantial green innovation performance and collaborative green innovation performance. Therefore, the government should improve the ESG information disclosure system, increase support for companies with excellent ESG performance, and improve local talent policies to attract high-quality green innovation talents. Investors should incorporate ESG performance into their decision-making and strengthen the identification and use of ESG information. Companies should formulate ESG strategies, increase relevant investments, prioritize corporate governance improvement, and enhance the quality of ESG information disclosure through various means. Full article
15 pages, 299 KiB  
Article
Consumer Trust in AI Algorithms Used in E-Commerce: A Case Study of College Students at a Romanian Public University
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11925; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511925 - 03 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1945
Abstract
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the factors associated with trust in AI algorithms used in the e-commerce industry in Romania. The motivation for conducting this analysis arose from the observation of a research gap in the Romanian context regarding [...] Read more.
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the factors associated with trust in AI algorithms used in the e-commerce industry in Romania. The motivation for conducting this analysis arose from the observation of a research gap in the Romanian context regarding this specific topic. The researchers utilized a non-probability convenience sample of 486 college students enrolled at a public university in Romania, who participated in a web-based survey focusing on their attitudes towards AI in e-commerce. The findings obtained from an ordinal logistic model indicated that trust in AI is significantly influenced by factors such as transparency, familiarity with other AI technologies, perceived usefulness of AI recommenders, and the students’ field of study. To ensure widespread acceptance and adoption by consumers, it is crucial for e-commerce companies to prioritize building trust in these new technologies. This study makes significant contributions to our understanding of how young consumers in Romania perceive and evaluate AI algorithms utilized in the e-commerce sector. The findings provide valuable guidance for e-commerce practitioners in Romania seeking to effectively leverage AI technologies while building trust among their target audience. Full article
25 pages, 2239 KiB  
Article
Information System Success for Organizational Sustainability: Exploring the Public Institutions in Saudi Arabia
Sustainability 2023, 15(12), 9233; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129233 - 07 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1159
Abstract
Organizational sustainability supports the financial, social, and cultural well-being of organizations and their surrounding communities. However, few studies have examined organizational sustainability in Saudi Arabia or its link to information technology. This study used self-reported data from a large sample of employees at [...] Read more.
Organizational sustainability supports the financial, social, and cultural well-being of organizations and their surrounding communities. However, few studies have examined organizational sustainability in Saudi Arabia or its link to information technology. This study used self-reported data from a large sample of employees at various Saudi government institutions to conclude that these institutions moderately implemented organizational sustainability. Correlation and regression analyses demonstrated weak associations between various types of organizational sustainability and dimensions of information system success, where user satisfaction with information systems is the strongest positive predictor of perceived organizational sustainability. Organizational sustainability is still emerging in the public sector, and further research is needed to identify predictors of its success. Full article
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Review

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26 pages, 3350 KiB  
Review
Mapping the Landscape of ESG Strategies: A Bibliometric Review and Recommendations for Future Research
Sustainability 2023, 15(24), 16592; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152416592 - 06 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1227
Abstract
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) together comprise what is regarded as a metric system that can be used to gauge a corporation’s performance in various facets of social responsibility. The increasing urgency for businesses to contemplate and proactively address ESG issues, due to [...] Read more.
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) together comprise what is regarded as a metric system that can be used to gauge a corporation’s performance in various facets of social responsibility. The increasing urgency for businesses to contemplate and proactively address ESG issues, due to their immediate relevance, underscores its importance in contemporary business landscapes. In the current academic landscape, scholars across various disciplines have thus been engaged in rigorous investigations of ESG. This research aims to present an overarching comprehension of the theoretical foundation of ESG by reviewing existing research and highlight the latest trends in ESG literature in the field of management. We have engaged in a comprehensive bibliometric examination, supplementing our research with the application of co-citation and bibliographic coupling methodologies. Based on co-citation analysis, this study elucidates four theoretical foundations of ESG research: Sustainability of competitive advantage; compliance of social construction; alignment of governance accountability; and allocation of sustainable capital. We then employ bibliographic coupling to assess current research trends, revealing five groups of research trends correlated with the topics: ESG activities and economic outcomes; ESG reporting and non-financial disclosure; ESG performance and corporate sustainability; ESG attributes and investment market; and ESG practices and board diversity. Furthermore, this study summarizes future research directions in the ESG domain. Full article
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