Drivers for SMEs Sustainability: A Review and Research Agenda

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Ehab Aktham Kassab , Norshahrizan Nordin , Mohammad Harith Amlus , Badlishah Ahmad


In recent years, issues about sustainability have dominated in the business world. It has evolved into a global business issue in which large corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are urged to integrate social and environmental agendas alongside profit-making goals. Sustainability is frequently misunderstood as focusing solely on environmental concerns. However, in reality, it refers to the act of managing the “triple bottom line” (TBL) of profit, people, and planet, which includes the pursuit of economic, social, and environmental goals. Based on a bibliometric analysis of 1421 articles and a distance-based visualisation of similarities (VOS) analysis, the purpose of this paper is first to outline a broad-spectrum perspective of the structure of research in sustainability among SMEs, identifying the most prominent journals, country contributions, top-cited authors, and articles in this field. The second is to conduct a systematic review based on 20 selected articles to review the empirical findings on the firm-level sustainability of SMEs. The analysis has led to thematic commonalities considering resources and capabilities, strategy, stakeholders, human capital, and innovations. The paper fills the gaps in the existing literature on a systematic analysis of SMEs’ sustainability and develops insights to address prevailing research gaps.

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