Sustainable business model adoption among S&P 500 firms: A longitudinal content analysis study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this study, we examine the diversity of sustainable business models adopted by the largest global corporations — those listed in the S&P 500 index — over the period 2005–2014. We examine press release communications during this period, which represent public data about business-relevant events. We expect that examining this communication can reveal longitudinal patterns in the adoption of sustainable business activities and models. Empirically, we utilize academic and practitioner expert panels to build a set of keywords across nine sustainable business model archetypes and utilize automated content analysis to examine the breadth and nature of a firm's sustainable business activities and practices. We find evidence of the increasing prominence of different types of sustainable business models over time. In particular, the results show that large capitalized firms have mostly adopted the environmentally-oriented archetypes, and to much lesser extent the societal and organizational ones.


  • Paavo Ritala
  • Pontus Huotari
  • Nancy Bocken
  • Laura Albareda
  • Kaisu Puumalainen
External organisations
  • Lappeenranta University of Technology
  • Delft University of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration


  • Content analysis, Large cap, S&P 500, Sustainability, Sustainable business models
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-226
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - 2018 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch