Research article

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) practices and firms' financial performance: Moderating role of country governance

  • Received: 09 December 2023 Revised: 24 January 2024 Accepted: 15 March 2024 Published: 29 March 2024
  • JEL Codes: Q01, G28, D22

  • It is becoming increasingly apparent that businesses must consider the impact they have on the environment and society while pursuing profit maximization. As a result, there is a growing need to incorporate sustainable frameworks into business decision-making. By focusing on sustainable performance at the firm level, we addressed a significant gap in understanding how environmental and social Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) impact bottom-line performance and the crucial role that effective country governance plays in implementing sustainability at the organization level. In 2015, the United Nations established Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where firms are encouraged to practice in the strategic operation of their businesses. In addition, country governance can play a significant role in adopting sustainable practices and policies that can impact bottom-line performance. In this study, we examined the relationship between environmental and social Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) practices, country governance, and firms' financial performance from 2017 to 2021. The sample data set consisted of top-listed firms in the finance, manufacturing, and technology industries of 100 companies from 17 countries in developed and developing and emerging economies. We utilized content analysis to account for the qualitative aspects of how firms implement social and environmental SDGs. Ten environmental SDGs and eight social SDGs were incorporated in this study as a means of measuring sustainable development goals' impact on a firm's financial performance. We adopted return on assets (ROA) to measure the firm's financial performance. We adopted government effectiveness and regulatory quality to moderate the relationship between social and environmental sustainability practices and firm performance. The panel regression method was exercised to find out the relationship between environmental and social SDGs' impact on financial performance. In addition, we measured the interaction effect between environmental and social SDGs and country governance on firms' performance. We also deployed two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression estimation to mitigate endogeneity concerns. We found that environmental SDGs had a positive and significant impact on firms' financial performance. The coefficient of social SDGs on firm performance was negative and statistically significant. We observed that the coefficient of interaction terms between environmental SDGs and country governance was positive and statistically significant. Moreover, the coefficient interaction terms between social SDGs and country governance were positive and statistically significant, lessening the negative impact of social SDGs on firm financial performance. Finally, we also performed a robustness test on our analysis based on the firm's average capital and average assets. The findings almost held the same.

    Citation: Sabuj Saha, Ahmed Rizvan Hasan, Kazi Rezwanul Islam, Md Asraful Islam Priom. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) practices and firms' financial performance: Moderating role of country governance[J]. Green Finance, 2024, 6(1): 162-198. doi: 10.3934/GF.2024007

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  • It is becoming increasingly apparent that businesses must consider the impact they have on the environment and society while pursuing profit maximization. As a result, there is a growing need to incorporate sustainable frameworks into business decision-making. By focusing on sustainable performance at the firm level, we addressed a significant gap in understanding how environmental and social Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) impact bottom-line performance and the crucial role that effective country governance plays in implementing sustainability at the organization level. In 2015, the United Nations established Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where firms are encouraged to practice in the strategic operation of their businesses. In addition, country governance can play a significant role in adopting sustainable practices and policies that can impact bottom-line performance. In this study, we examined the relationship between environmental and social Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) practices, country governance, and firms' financial performance from 2017 to 2021. The sample data set consisted of top-listed firms in the finance, manufacturing, and technology industries of 100 companies from 17 countries in developed and developing and emerging economies. We utilized content analysis to account for the qualitative aspects of how firms implement social and environmental SDGs. Ten environmental SDGs and eight social SDGs were incorporated in this study as a means of measuring sustainable development goals' impact on a firm's financial performance. We adopted return on assets (ROA) to measure the firm's financial performance. We adopted government effectiveness and regulatory quality to moderate the relationship between social and environmental sustainability practices and firm performance. The panel regression method was exercised to find out the relationship between environmental and social SDGs' impact on financial performance. In addition, we measured the interaction effect between environmental and social SDGs and country governance on firms' performance. We also deployed two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression estimation to mitigate endogeneity concerns. We found that environmental SDGs had a positive and significant impact on firms' financial performance. The coefficient of social SDGs on firm performance was negative and statistically significant. We observed that the coefficient of interaction terms between environmental SDGs and country governance was positive and statistically significant. Moreover, the coefficient interaction terms between social SDGs and country governance were positive and statistically significant, lessening the negative impact of social SDGs on firm financial performance. Finally, we also performed a robustness test on our analysis based on the firm's average capital and average assets. The findings almost held the same.



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