Does sustainable board governance drive corporate social responsibility? A structured literature review on European archival research

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Purpose: This paper aims to analyze the impact that sustainable board governance has on corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the European capital market because of the current debate of future European regulations on the topic. Design/methodology/approach: Based on a legitimacy and stakeholder theoretical framework, the author conducts a structured literature review and includes 86 quantitative peer-reviewed empirical (archival) studies on board gender diversity, sustainability board expertise and sustainability-related executive compensation and their impact on CSR variables. Findings: Gender board diversity represents the most important variable in this literature review. The included categories of sustainable board governance positively influence both the total CSR and environmental outputs. Research limitations/implications: A detailed analysis of sustainable board governance proxies is needed in future archival research to differentiate between symbolic and substantive use of CSR. In view of the current European reform initiatives on sustainable corporate governance in line with the EU Green Deal project, future research should also analyze the interactions between the included sustainable board governance variables and their contributions to CSR. Practical implications: As both stakeholder demands’ on CSR outputs and CSR washing have increased since the financial crisis of 2008–2009, firms should be aware of a substantive integration of sustainability within their boards of directors (e.g. because of composition and compensation) to increase their CSR efforts and long-term firm reputation. Originality/value: This analysis makes useful contributions to prior research by focusing on sustainable board governance as a key determinant of CSR outputs on the European capital market. The European Commission’s future evidence-based regulations [e.g. the corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD) and the corporate sustainability due diligence directive (CSDD)] should be promoted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Global Responsibility
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)46-88
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - 06.01.2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.

    Research areas

  • Management studies - Board of directors, Stakeholder theory, Board gender diversity, sustainable corporate governance, Sustainablility board expertise, sustainablility-related executive compensation
  • Sustainability Science