A grouping of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their influence on business results: An analysis for Spanish companies





SDGs, sustainability, business results, Spanish companies


Research background: In 2015, the United Nations (UN) set the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) containing the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainable development. These focus on governments, society, non-profit organisations, and the private sector. This last pillar plays a key role in the pursuit of these goals, but there remains a lack of knowledge regarding how companies achieve the SDGs.

Purpose of the article: Some authors have analysed the effect of companies' adoption of the SDGs on their business performance. However, there is a gap in the analysis of this influence when considering the groups of SDGs. This study examines the level of commitment of a sample of Spanish companies with a grouping of the SDGs and their effects on business results.

Methods: We obtained information on companies from the UNGC and developed a panel regression.

Findings & value added: We concluded that all the SDGs do not have the same effect on companies that incorporate them into their activities. Although it is possible to make progress in all the SDGs, complementarities and trade-offs influence companies' results. The results obtained in this study incorporate new ideas into this issue and provide a new vision of how companies should incorporate sustainability into their businesses. It is not a question of achieving as many sustainable development goals as possible, but rather of focusing on those that can contribute the most to improving business performance. The clustering of the SDGs that we have undertaken and their subsequent analysis facilitates this work.


Download data is not yet available.


Adamkaite, J., Streimikiene, D., & Rudzioniene, K. (2023). The impact of social responsibility on corporate financial performance in the energy sector: Evidence from Lithuania. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 30(1), 91–104. doi: 10.1002/csr.2340.

Agrawal, R., Majumdar, A., Majumdar, K., Raut, R. D., & Narkhede, B. E. (2022). Attaining sustainable development goals (SDGs) through supply chain practices and business strategies: A systematic review with bibliometric and network analyses. Business Strategy and the Environment, 31(7), 3669–3687. doi: 10.1002/ bse.3057.

Al Lawati, H., & Hussainey, K. (2022). Does Sustainable Development Goals disclosure affect corporate financial performance? Sustainability, 14(13), 7815. doi: 10.3390/su14137815.

Alcaide González, M. Á., De La Poza Plaza, E., & Guadalajara Olmeda, N. (2020). The impact of corporate social responsibility transparency on the financial performance, brand value, and sustainability level of IT companies. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 27(2), 642–654. doi: 10.1002 /csr.1829.

Alkaraan, F., Elmarzouky, M., Hussainey, K., & Venkatesh, V. G. (2023). Sustainable strategic investment decision-making practices in UK companies: The influence of governance mechanisms on synergy between industry 4.0 and circular economy. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 187, 122187. doi: 10.1016/j. techfore.2022.122187.

Ang, R., Shao, Z., Liu, C., Yang, C., & Zheng, Q. (2022). The relationship between CSR and financial performance and the moderating effect of ownership structure: Evidence from Chinese heavily polluting listed enterprises. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 30, 117–129. doi: 10.1016/j.spc.2021.11.030.

Balcerzak, A. P., MacGregor, R. K., Pelikánová, R. M., Rogalska, E., & Szostek, D. (2023). The EU regulation of sustainable investment: The end of sustainability trade-offs? Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 11(1), 199–212. doi: 10.15678/eber.2023.110111.

Balcerzak, A. P., & Pelikánová, R. M. (2020). Projection of SDGs in codes of ethics—case study about lost in translation. Administrative Sciences, 10(4), 95. doi: 10.3390 /admsci10040095.

Barbier, E. B., & Burgess, J. C. (2019). Sustainable development goal indicators: Analyzing trade-offs and complementarities. World Development, 122, 295–305. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.05.026.

Berrone, P., Ricart, J. E., Duch, A. I., Bernardo, V., Salvador, J., Piedra Peña, J., & Rodríguez Planas, M. (2019). EASIER: An evaluation model for public–private partnerships contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability, 11(8), 2339. doi: 10.3390/su11082339.

Biggeri, M., Clark, D. A., Ferrannini, A., & Mauro, V. (2019). Tracking the SDGs in an ‘integrated’ manner: A proposal for a new index to capture synergies and trade-offs between and within goals. World Development, 122, 628–647. doi: 10.10 16/j.worlddev.2019.05.022.

Bowie, N. E. (2019). International business as a possible civilizing force in a cosmopolitan world. Journal of Business Ethics, 155(4), 941–950. doi: 10.1007/s10 551-017-3670-8.

Brodny, J., & Tutak, M. (2023). The level of implementing sustainable development goal "Industry, innovation and infrastructure" of Agenda 2030 in the European Union countries: Application of MCDM methods. Oeconomia Copernicana, 14(1), 47–102. doi: 10.24136/oc.2023.002.

Caldana, A. C. F., Pacheco, L. M., Alves, M. F. R., Eustachio, J. H. P. P., & Santos, N. M. B. F. (2022). Strategy implementation for the 2030 agenda: Insights from Brazilian companies. Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility, 31(2), 296–306. doi: 10.1111/beer.12409.

Claro, P. B. d. O., & Esteves, N. R. (2021). Sustainability-oriented strategy and Sustainable Development Goals. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 39(4), 613–630. doi: 10.1108/MIP-08-2020-0365.

Costanza, R., Daly, L., Fioramonti, L., Giovannini, E., Kubiszewski, I., Mortensen, L. F., Pickett, K. E., Ragnarsdottir, K. V., De Vogli, R., & Wilkinson, R. (2016). Modelling and measuring sustainable wellbeing in connection with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ecological Economics, 130, 350–355. doi: 10.1016/ j.ecolecon.2016.07.009.

Dalampira, E.-S., & Nastis, S. A. (2020). Mapping Sustainable Development Goals: A network analysis framework. Sustainable Development, 28(1), 46–55. doi: 10.10 02/sd.1964.

Daugaard, D. (2020). Emerging new themes in environmental, social and governance investing: A systematic literature review. Accounting & Finance, 60(2), 1501–1530. doi: 10.1111/acfi.12479.

Dawes, J. H. P. (2022). SDG interlinkage networks: Analysis, robustness, sensitivities, and hierarchies. World Development, 149, 105693. doi: 10.1016/j.wor lddev.2021.105693.

Dorber, M., Panzacchi, M., Strand, O., & van Moorter, B. (2023). New indicator of habitat functionality reveals high risk of underestimating trade-offs among sustainable development goals: The case of wild reindeer and hydropower. Ambio, 52(4), 757–768. doi: 10.1007/s13280-022-01824-x.

Dubravská, M., Marchevská, M., Vašaničová, P., & Kotulič, R. (2020). Corporate social responsibility and environmental management linkage: An empirical analysis of the Slovak Republic. Sustainability, 12(13), 5431. doi: 10.3390/su1213 5431.

Eppinga, M. B., Mijts, E. N., & Santos, M. J. (2022). Ranking the sustainable development goals: Perceived sustainability priorities in small island states. Sustainability Science, 17(4), 1537–1556. doi: 10.1007/s11625-022-01100-7.

Fonseca, L. M., Domingues, J. P., & Dima, A. M. (2020). Mapping the Sustainable Development Goals relationships. Sustainability, 12(8), 3359. doi: 10.3390/su12 083359.

Fraser, J. (2019). Creating shared value as a business strategy for mining to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Extractive Industries and Society, 6(3), 788–791. doi: 10.1016/j.exis.2019.05.011.

Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits [J]. New York Times Magazine, 32(33), 173–178.

Fuso Nerini, F., Tomei, J., To, L. S., Bisaga, I., Parikh, P., Black, M., Borrion, A., Spataru, C., Broto, V. C., Anandarajah, G., Milligan, B., & Mulugetta, Y. (2018). Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Energy, 3(1), 10–15. doi: 10.1038/s41560-017-0036-5.

Ghardallou, W., & Alessa, N. (2022). Corporate social responsibility and firm performance in GCC countries: A panel smooth transition regression model. Sustainability, 14(13), 7908. doi: 10.3390/su14137908.

Goedeke, M. J., & Fogliasso, C. (2020). Is CSR becoming a corporate requirement? Journal of Managerial Issues, 32(2), 162–175. doi: 10.3397/jmi12654.

Grewatsch, S., & Kleindienst, I. (2017). When does it pay to be good? Moderators and mediators in the corporate sustainability–corporate financial performance relationship: A critical review. Journal of Business Ethics, 145(2), 383–416. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2852-5.

Grijalvo, M., & García-Wang, C. (2023). Sustainable business model for climate finance. Key drivers for the commercial banking sector. Journal of Business Research, 155, 113446. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2022.113446.

Hirai, T., & Comim, F. (2022). Measuring the sustainable development goals: A poset analysis. Ecological Indicators, 145, 109605. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2022.109 605.

Inoue, Y., & Lee, S. (2011). Effects of different dimensions of corporate social responsibility on corporate financial performance in tourism-related industries. Tourism Management, 32(4), 790–804. doi: 10.1016/j.tourman.2010.06.019.

Jan, A. A., Lai, F.-W., Asif, M., Akhtar, S., & Ullah, S. (2023). Embedding sustainability into bank strategy: Implications for sustainable development goals reporting. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 30(3), 229–243. doi: 10.1080/13504509.2022.2134230.

Kludacz-Alessandri, M., & Cygańska, M. (2021). Corporate social responsibility and financial performance among energy sector companies. Energies, 14(19), 6068. doi: 10.3390/en14196068.

Lassala, C., Orero-Blat, M., & Ribeiro-Navarrete, S. (2021). The financial performance of listed companies in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja, 34(1), 427–449. doi: 10.108 0/1331677X.2021.1877167.

Le, T. T. (2022a). Corporate social responsibility and SMEs' performance: Mediating role of corporate image, corporate reputation and customer loyalty. International Journal of Emerging Markets. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1108/ijoem07-2021–1164.

Le, T. T. (2022b). How do corporate social responsibility and green innovation transform corporate green strategy into sustainable firm performance? Journal of Cleaner Production, 362, 132228. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.132228.

Margolis, J. D., & Walsh, J. P. (2003). Misery loves companies: Rethinking social initiatives by business. Administrative Science Quarterly, 48(2), 268–305. doi: 10.23 07/3556659.

Martínez-Falcó, J., Marco-Lajara, B., Sánchez-García, E., & Millan-Tudela, L. A. (2023). Sustainable Development Goals in the business sphere: A bibliometric review. Sustainability, 15(6), 5075. doi: 10.3390/su15065075.

Mayorga, M., & Muñoz, E. (2000). La técnica de datos de panel una guía para su uso e interpretación. Banco Central de Costa Rica. Documento de trabajo.

Mio, C., Panfilo, S., & Blundo, B. (2020). Sustainable development goals and the strategic role of business: A systematic literature review. Business Strategy and the Environment, 29(8), 3220–3245. doi: 10.1002/bse.2568.

Moore, D. R. J., & Sciulli, N. (2022). Sustainable development goal disclosures within Australian superannuation funds: An exploratory study. Australasian Accounting, Business and Finance Journal, 16(2), 72–90. doi: 10.14453/aabfj.v16i2.6.

Morioka, S. N., Bolis, I., Evans, S., & Carvalho, M. M. (2017). Transforming sustainability challenges into competitive advantage: Multiple case studies kaleidoscope converging into sustainable business models. Journal of Cleaner production, 167, 723–738. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.08.118.

Mozas-Moral, A., Fernández-Uclés, D., Medina-Viruel, M. J., & Bernal-Jurado, E. (2021). The role of the SDGs as enhancers of the performance of Spanish wine cooperatives. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 173, 121176. doi: 10.1016 /j.techfore.2021.121176.

Muhmad, S. N., & Muhamad, R. (2021). Sustainable business practices and financial performance during pre- and post-SDG adoption periods: A systematic review. Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, 11(4), 291–309. doi: 10.1080/20430795 .2020.1727724.

Nechita, E., Manea, C. L., Nichita, E.-M., Irimescu, A.-M., & Manea, D. (2020). Is financial information influencing the reporting on SDGs? Empirical evidence from Central and Eastern European chemical companies. Sustainability, 12(21), 9251. doi: 10.3390/su12219251.

Okafor, A., Adeleye, B. N., & Adusei, M. (2021). Corporate social responsibility and financial performance: Evidence from U.S tech firms. Journal of Cleaner Production, 292, 126078. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126078.

Palmer, T. B., Phadke, S., Nair, M. V., & Flanagan, D. J. (2019). Examination of sustainability goals: A comparative study of U.S. and Indian firms. Journal of Management & Organization. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/jmo.201 9.9.

Pham, D. C., Do, T. N. A., Doan, T. N., Nguyen, T. X. H., & Pham, T. K. Y. (2021). The impact of sustainability practices on financial performance: Empirical evidence from Sweden. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1), 1912526. doi: 10.108 0/23311975.2021.1912526.

Politis, Y., & Grigoroudis, E. (2022). Incorporating the sustainability concept in the major business excellence models. Sustainability, 14(13), 8175. doi: 10.3390/su14 138175.

Preston, L. E., & O'Bannon, D. P. (1997). The corporate social-financial performance relationship: A typology and analysis. Business & Society, 36(4), 419–429. doi: 10.1177/000765039703600406.

Queenan, K., Garnier, J. N., Nielsen, L., & Buttigieg, C. (2017). Roadmap to a one health Agenda 2030. CAB Reviews, 12. doi: 10.1079/pavsnnr201712014.

Quintana-García, C., Marchante-Lara, M., & Benavides-Chicón, C. G. (2022). Towards sustainable development: Environmental innovation, cleaner production performance, and reputation. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 29(5), 1330–1340. doi: 10.1002/csr.2272.

Rajesh, R., & Rajendran, C. (2020). Relating environmental, social, and governance scores and sustainability performances of firms: An empirical analysis. Business Strategy and the Environment, 29(3), 1247–1267. doi: 10.1002/bse.2429.

Renaud, F. G., Zhou, X., Bosher, L., Barrett, B., & Huang, S. (2022). Synergies and trade-offs between sustainable development goals and targets: Innovative approaches and new perspectives. Sustainability Science, 17(4), 1317–1322. doi: 10.1007/s11625-022-01209-9.

Santos, M. J., & Silva, C. (2021). The adoption of sustainable development goals by large Portuguese companies. Social Responsibility Journal, 17(8), 1079–1099. doi: 10.1108/srj-07-2018-0184.

Shahbaz, M., Karaman, A., Kılıç Karamahmutoğlu, M., & Uyar, A. (2020). Board attributes, CSR engagement, and corporate performance: What is the nexus in the energy sector? Energy Policy, 143, 111582. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111582.

Sharma, R., & Aggarwal, P. (2022). Impact of mandatory corporate social responsibility on corporate financial performance: The Indian experience. Social Responsibility Journal, 18(4), 704–722. doi: 10.1108/srj-09-2020-0394.

Singh, G. G., Cisneros-Montemayor, A. M., Swartz, W., Cheung, W., Guy, J. A., Kenny, T., McOwen, C. J, Asch, R., Geffert, J. L., Wabnitz, C. C. C., Sumaila, R., Hanich, Q., & Ota, Y. (2018). A rapid assessment of co-benefits and trade-offs among Sustainable Development Goals. Marine Policy, 93, 223–231. doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.05.030.

Suárez-Serrano, E., González-Torre, P. L., & Covián-Regales, E. (2023). A business prioritisation of the sustainable development goals indicators: Building bridges between academics and practitioners in the Spanish case. Environmental Development, 46, 100827. doi: 10.1016/j.envdev.2023.100827.

UN (2014). Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty Text with EEA relevance.

UN (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Urban, P., & Hametner, M. (2022). The economy–environment nexus: Sustainable Development Goals interlinkages in Austria. Sustainability, 14(19), 12281. doi: 10.3390/su141912281.

van Zanten, J. A., & van Tulder, R. (2018). Multinational enterprises and the Sustainable Development Goals: An institutional approach to corporate engagement. Journal of International Business Policy, 1(3), 208–233. doi: 10.1057/s 42214-018-0008-x.

Waage, J., Yap, C., Bell, S., Levy, C., Mace, G., Pegram, T., Unterhalter, E., Dasandi, N., Hudson, D., Kock, R. A. , Mayhew, S., Marx, C., & Poole, N. (2015). Governing the UN sustainable development goals: interactions, infrastructures, and institutions. Lancet Global Health, 3(5), 251–252. doi: 10.1016/s2214-109x(15) 70112-9.

Ye, J., Moslehpour, M., Tu, Y.-T., Vinh, N. T., Ngo, T. Q., & Nguyen, S. V. (2022). Investment on environmental social and governance activities and its impact on achieving sustainable development goals: Evidence from Chinese manufactu-ring firms. Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja, Advance onnline publicaiton. doi: 10.1080/1331677X.2022.2076145.

Yilmaz, M. K., Aksoy, M., & Tatoglu, E. (2020). Does the stock market value inclusion in a sustainability index? Evidence from Borsa Istanbul. Sustainability, 12(2), 483. doi: 10.3390/su12020483.




How to Cite

Peña, I., Andrade, S. M., Muñoz, R. M., & Martínez, I. (2023). A grouping of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their influence on business results: An analysis for Spanish companies. Oeconomia Copernicana, 14(2), 551–583. https://doi.org/10.24136/oc.2023.015