Exploring the intersection of strategic management and sustainable development: a bibliometric network analysis
Kimpimäki, Jaan-Pauli (2019)
Pro gradu -tutkielma
School of Business and Management, Kauppatieteet
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The focus of this thesis is an analysis of the state of integration and underlying connections between strategic management and sustainable development. The primary research problem is the inherent logical contradictions of these concepts and their underlying assumptions which have formerly been studied from various perspectives; these studies have found such integration incomplete. Though previous reviews exist mainly with respect to the specific concept of corporate sustainability, an up-to-date and thorough bibliometric analysis investigating the convergence of the two fields from a broader integrative perspective is yet lacking. To address this gap, the research question formulated is: How has the emergence of sustainable development affected strategic management research over time? To answer, a longitudinal analysis utilizing bibliometric co-citation and co-word techniques, social network analysis, and an investigation of the evolution of structural network properties, using data retrieved from the databases Web of Science and SCOPUS, was performed. The findings highlight the past evolution of the research space from a bidimensional split between environmental and social aspects to a tridimensional quest for integration in search of perspective, rooted in weak sustainability definitions and found lacking in acknowledging the role of systems and systems thinking. The key theoretical contribution of this thesis arises from the centrality synthesis which provides an overview of the most central works and themes found in the convergent space; secondarily, the discussion calls into question the ongoing relevance of currently dominant research paradigms and suggests a step back in reassessing some basic theoretical assumptions underpinning the research gap. For practitioners, the discussion might provide a better understanding of the underlying logic and current state of the academically defined relationship between strategic management and sustainable development, while possibly discovering clues as to how they—as managers and executives—can integrate a strong sustainability orientation in their own organizational roles and organizations.