Big data and corporate sustainability: What is the role of big data in MCNs with corporate sustainability agenda and what is the practical use they can make of it?

Sylwia Zawistowska

Student thesis: Master thesis


Abstract: This thesis addresses Big Data’s role in multination corporations (MNCs) with Corporate Sustainability agenda. Dynamic capabilities theory and stakeholder view, and data from two business cases’ organizations create the framework through research questions on ‘how’ and ‘why’ MNCs with Corporate Sustainability agenda apply Big Data are addressed. Furthermore, rather than deciding whether Corporate Sustainability agenda is economically profitable to companies, this thesis focuses on the perceived gains MNCs acquire from it. Throughout two decades, Corporate Sustainability has become an important element in today’s business activities together with sustainability reporting. Likewise, Big Data, despite the fact that it is a relatively new phenomenon, is already swiping through many aspects of conventional business with extreme speed fuelling an idea of Big Data-driven economy. Although both of these concepts play an important role in today’s business environment, the company perspective on the interplay between the two is still underdeveloped. The results of the business case analysis find that MCNs engage in Big Data and Corporate Sustainability, because of the dynamic and changing business environment that is increasingly shaped by these two concepts. MNCs see engagement in Big Data and Corporate Sustainability as important and beneficial to their operations. Moreover, MNCs with Corporate Sustainability agenda use Big Data to enhance transparency, which, in turn, indirectly enforces Corporate Sustainability. Additionally, it is found that the practical use they can make of it are publishing better sustainability reports and better benchmarking opportunities. With this, it is reflected that Big Data concept is misunderstood and with the lack of theoretically valid definition Big Data’s potential cannot be fully used.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages153