The impact of ownership on building sustainable and responsible businesses

by Belén Villalonga

31 Oct 2018
Journal of the British Academy
Number of pages
29 (pp. 375-403)

Pages in this section

Abstract: This article reviews what we know and do not know about the impact of ownership on building sustainable and responsible businesses. We begin by analysing why firm owners are an important driver of responsible business behaviour, and review whether between such behaviour comes at a financial cost to owners or not. We then discuss how owners drive responsible business behaviour as compared to other stakeholders, reviewing the empirical evidence about the impact of different owner types on various forms of responsible business.
Our review shows that there is a fair amount of research about certain topics such as the relation betweeen financial and social performance and about the social and enviromental impact behaviour of two most prevalent types of owners of public corporations—families and institutional investors, although the cumulative evidence on those topics is far from conclusive. Moreover, we also find a number of gaps in our knowledge that warrant further research to inform recommendations to business leaders and policy makers. These include the relative effectiveness of different types of owners, stakeholder, and organisational form at building sustainable and responsible businesses; the impact of the recent evolution of capital markets on CSR behaviour; and the social snd enviromental impact of the state, foundations, and employees as owners of corporations.

Keywords: ownership, sustainability, responsibility, social environmental, performance, family firms, institutional investors.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 6,
supplementary issue 1 (Reforming Business for the 21st Century).

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