Determinants and performance-outcome of sustainable product attributes

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa Arina Hall TA105

Topic of the dissertation

Determinants and performance-outcome of sustainable product attributes

Doctoral candidate

MSc Zeeshan Ullah

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Management and International Business

Subject of study



Professori Thanos Papadopoulos, University of Kent


Professor Ahmad Arslan, University of Oulu

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Determinants and performance-outcome of sustainable product attributes

Strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a way to produce sustainable innovations in firms. At the same time, strategic CSR initiatives tend to be costly and use Research and Development (R&D) resources, thus diminishing the R&D efficiency in firms. Though strategic CSR and R&D functions compete for resource acquisition and firms may use CSR budget in R&D functional areas; however, it does not lessen the need (of firms) to pursue sustainability objectives.

Therefore, this doctoral dissertation emphasizes that regardless of resource constraints, R&D knowledge similarities with CSR allow firms to incorporate sustainability dimensions into product-differentiation strategies. Based on the empirical findings, this doctoral dissertation clarifies that knowledge relatedness (between R&D and CSR) diminishes the associated costs and allows firms to develop sustainable products through generic R&D functions.

Moreover, sustainable product development is an implementation of strategic CSR in the product development department of a firm. To discourage the practice of re-routing CSR budget to R&D functions for increasing competitiveness and performance outcomes, it is imperative to produce performance-oriented sustainable products.

Considering that a sustainable product is a combination of environmental and social dimensions, therefore, to guide the managers better, this dissertation also explored the performance contribution of environmental and social dimensions of sustainable products. Concerning the performance outcome of sustainable products aggregately and their environmental and social dimensions individually, it was revealed that a relatively small fraction of performance difference between environmental and social dimensions, comparative to the firm's strategic CSR focus on the development of environmental and social dimensions of a sustainable product.

The research findings highlighted an over-emphasis of strategic CSR on the development of the environmental dimension relative to the social dimension in a sustainable product. These findings inform the managers of the existing optimal mix of sustainable products and their performance contributions; furthermore, these findings urge managers to adjust strategic CSR emphasis on the inclusion of environmental and social dimensions into the sustainable product mix as per the performance outcome of each dimension of sustainable products.
Last updated: 6.5.2022