Sustainability, corporate governance and organizational performancefive essays

  1. Zubeltzu Jaka, Eugenio
Supervised by:
  1. Eduardo Ortas Fredes Director
  2. Igor Álvarez Echeverría Director

Defence university: Universidad de Zaragoza

Fecha de defensa: 12 March 2020

  1. José Mariano Moneva Abadía Chair
  2. Juana Rivera Lirio Secretary
  3. Jacques Jaussaud Committee member

Type: Thesis


This PhD dissertation aims to contribute to three knowledge fields that are closely linked: i) corporate governance; ii) business sustainability; and, iii) organizational performance. This thesis comprises five research studies, so that the dissertation is constructed under the publications compendium model. The dissertation analyze, from an international perspective, the influence of different corporate governance mechanisms on companies’ sustainability performance. Furthermore, it provides two studies that go deeper in that relationship by addressing the determinants of Eco- innovation and voluntary environmental certifications effect over Environmental performance. This will bring some help to companies’ managers at the time of adopting strategic decisions to achieve enhanced social and environmental performance. In this way, the main objective of the dissertation is to evaluate whether several corporate governance mechanisms and processes and proactive environmental strategies make it possible for companies to make specific contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Schönherr, Findler, & Martinuzzi, 2017). The main methodology applied in this thesis is the meta-analysis and the meta- regression. These approaches provide the opportunity to obtain additional empirical evidence based on the systematic review of previously published empirical works on one field or topic (Borenstein, Higgins, & Rothstein, 2009; Lipsey & Wilson, 2001). With that goal in mind, this dissertations is structured in the following way. The first article presents the state of the art of research on common issues in business performance and corporate governance, in order to present a basic framework for the subsequent analysis of the relationship between good governance practices, sustainability, and organizational performance. The second study analyses the effect the board of directors’ independence on the corporate social and environmental performance of companies of a sample of more than 100,000 firms (grouped in 87 empirical articles). The third study analyzes the association between firms’ boardroom size (i.e., diversity) on corporate social performance. The fourth study focuses on a strategic tool that promotes sustainability –eco-innovation in particular–. Specifically, this chapter aims to capture the main determinants of companies’ eco-innovation practices. Finally, the last study focuses on shedding light on the performance implications of other strategic tool that promotes sustainability –the adoption of voluntary environmental certifications on corporate environmental performance–. The main results of the dissertation allow contributing to expand the current knowledge in the field in the following ways. Firstly and foremost, we found that the incidence of board independence and size positively influences companies’ social and environmental performance. More interestingly, we found that the aforementioned connections are conditioned by both methodological and theoretical moderators such as: i) minority investors’ protection measures; ii) countries’ corporate governance systems; and, iii) corporate social and environmental performance proxies, among others. This finding is in accordance with the view that the interdependence between corporate governance mechanisms proposed by the "bundle of corporate governance". Secondly, this dissertation address that companies with collaborative networks and/or more environmental involvement are more prone to eco-innovation, emphasizing the role of "technology push" as the main group of determinants, regardless of the type of eco-innovation analyzed. Finally the positive impacts of environmental management systems on environmental performance is captured, and the moderating role of corporate environmental performance measures and environmental management certifications maturity and internalization is addressed and contextualized.