Sustainability Performance Analysis of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: Criteria, Methods and Framework

Chrysovalantis Malesios*, Debashree De, Andreas Moursellas, Prasanta Dey, Konstantinos Evangelinos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in any economy as they contribute to GDP and employment. However, sustainability (right combination of economic, environmental and social) of SMEs is a major concern as they prioritize economic performance over environmental and social to remain competitive. Majority of prior researches on SMEs' sustainability either look at the impact of a few limited enablers (e.g. lean, green, innovation etc.) on sustainability performance or the effect of pressures and barriers on the sustainability performance. There is a clear gap of a holistic and robust framework for sustainability performance analysis in order to measure and improve sustainability performance. This research bridges this knowledge gap by addressing two research questions – what practice and performance criteria are being considered for sustainability performance analysis in a broad environmental, economic and social context, how are they related, and what methods are being used to derive the relationship between sustainability practices and performance. These research questions are addressed through a systematic literature review of 58 papers, published between 2005 and 2018 in leading journals. First, an objective content analysis is undertaken in order to identify sustainability practices and performance criteria along with their frequency of usage in prior research. Second, the correlation among the variables is studied. Third, the methods for analyzing the relationships of the criteria are identified. Finally, a framework for analysing correlation of SMEs’ sustainability practices and performance in order to measure and improve performance using statistical modeling approach is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100993
JournalSocio-economic planning science
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Funding: This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 788692.


  • Drivers
  • Literature review
  • Performance
  • Practices
  • Small and medium enterprises
  • Statistical modeling
  • Sustainability


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