Multinational enterprises and the sustainable development goals: What do we know and how to proceed?

Ans Kolk*, Arno Kourula, Niccolò Pisani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Multinational enterprises (MNEs) can play an important role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This article examines what we know about their participation in implementing the SDGs and their impact, both positive and negative, on people, the planet, prosperity and peace as identified in the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda. To this end, we review the research published in the main international business journals on five key SDGs that represent these "four Ps", grouped into three categories: (1) poverty and inequality, (2) energy and climate change, and (3) peace. We summarize the findings of the 61 relevant studies and subsequently explore the UN's "fifth P", partnership, both in terms of published research on MNEs and the SDGs, and in terms of a collaborative agenda to help address the large challenges of the 2030 Agenda. In view of the relatively limited research on MNEs and SDGs thus far, academic institutions and international business scholars in particular are well-positioned to offer important insights about the role of business in supporting the SDGs, for which we offer suggestions, also in relation with other key actors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-32
Number of pages24
JournalTransnational Corporations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


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