The development of research on environmental, social, and governance (ESG): A bibliometric analysis

Sachini Supunsala Senadheera, Richard Gregory, Jörg Rinklebe, Muhammad Farrukh, Jay Hyuk Rhee, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Investment in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) significantly influences a company’s financial aspects that drive sustainability. This study sample covers the data of 981 articles obtained from the Scopus database spanning over 141 journals from 2001 to 2021 and uses quantitative bibliometric analysis to discover present and future research directions of ESG. This analysis evaluates prolific research elements, such as authors, citations, journals, institutions, countries, regions, possible links between ESG and corporate performance and trends while focusing on the environmental pillar. With the emergence of the term ESG in 2006, the number of publications on this topic has almost doubled every year since 2017. With this exponential increase in the number of publications, the world is expected to give greater consideration to the concept of ESG, including green investing, circular economy, and RE100. This study highlights the key findings during the past decade including the importance of and tendency for ESG investing and revealing the less well-specified metrics of the governance pillar compared to those of the environmental and social pillars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2125869
JournalSustainable Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Korea University Business School Research Grant and the International ESG Association, Seoul, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.


  • ESG
  • bibliometric analysis
  • environmental, social, and governance
  • responsible investment
  • sustainable future

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Environmental Science


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