Special Issue of AMS Review.

Theories of Sustainability

Special Issue Guest-Editors: Tronvoll B, Peterson M & Fehrer J

Deadline: 31 December 2023

Environmental problems and resource depletion have become increasingly salient and challenging issues (Sanchez-Medina and Díaz-Pichardo, 2017; Tung et al., 2014). These and related concerns traverse generations, industries, and nations and have become significant focal issues for individuals, firms, and societies worldwide. In particular, the interests and concepts of sustainable businesses have been emerging since the second half of the 20th century due to pressure from the ever-increasing awareness of the challenges of sustainable societal and economic development (Cekanavicius et al., 2014).

In recent years, policymakers and business leaders have made important pronouncements about shifting to more sustainable business practices. Recognized in the Harvard Business Review, businesses committing to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles are now taking a proactive approach to strategically influencing the sustainability of their supply chains, business models, and broader business ecosystems (Kaplan and McMillan 2021; Polman and Winston 2022).

However, despite this push from governments and organizations toward sustainable business practices, there remains a shortage of robust theories that adequately address the process (Field et al. 2021; Vargo, 2021). We see this lack of theories dealing with the convergence of individual, corporate, and governmental practices needed for transformation to occur as severely restricting progress. Some researchers argue that theories provide the very foundation of knowledge creation (e.g., Handfield and Melnyk, 1998), implying a pressing need for their development across a broad range of sustainability perspectives—e.g., micro, meso, and macro levels.

This special issue aims to address this acute need for theories of sustainability. Such theories might draw on indigenous marketing knowledge, for instance, work on value (co-)creation and service ecosystems (Vargo and Lusch, 2004; 2016), transitions and emergence (Vargo et al. 2022), market shaping frameworks (Nenonen et al., 2019; Kjellberg and Helgesson, 2007), and macro- and megamarketing (Sheth & Parvatiyar, 2021; Humphreys, 2010). It may also be developed from other disciplines of social science (including, management, psychology, sociology, economics, consumer sciences, and anthropology) as well as disciplines of natural science (such as ecology and biology) and others, including philosophy, religion, and ethics. 

The purpose of the special issue is to advance theoretical development for sustainable thought and action—especially market-based perspectives of sustainability, which prominently address the role of business in its market-facing endeavors. This theoretical development can draw on existing theories and frameworks, both indigenous to and from outside of academic marketing. Both conceptual manuscripts (including reviews), for peer review, and commentaries, for editorial review, will be considered.

Possible contributing theories and frameworks might include, but are not limited to:

Theories and Frameworks Developed in Marketing
– Service-Dominant Logic and Complex Adaptive (Eco-)systems
– Market-Based Sustainability and Market Shaping for Sustainability
– Macromarketing –
– Resource-Advantage Theory

Theories Developed in Other Disciplines
– Institutional Theory
– Resource-based View and Dynamic Capabilities
– Paradox Theory
– Stakeholder Theory
– Human Ecology Theory
– Industrial Ecology
– Natural Ecology Theory and Ecological Economics
– Human Development Theory

More info here.

For additional questions regarding the special issue, please contact the special-issue editors.
Bård Tronvoll
Mark Peterson
Julia Fehrer