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Sustainable development goals as unifying narratives in large UK firms’ Twitter discussions

To achieve sustainable development worldwide, the United Nations set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for humanity to reach by 2030.

Society is involved in the challenge, with firms playing a crucial role. In this paper, researchers Alessia Patuelli (Northumbria University, IMT Lucca, Università di Firenze) and Fabio Saracco (IAC, CREF) provide  a comprehensive and nearly real-time picture of firms’ engagement with SDGs

They used a novel interdisciplinary approach that analyzes online societal debates on Twitter with complex network methods from statistical physics. Results show that:

  1. SDGs themes tie conversations among major UK firms together;
  2. the social dimension is predominant;
  3. the attention to different SDGs themes varies depending on the community and sector firms belong to;
  4. stakeholder engagement is higher on posts related to global challenges compared to general ones;
  5. large UK companies and stakeholders generally behave differently from Italian ones.

This paper provides theoretical contributions and practical implications relevant to firms, policymakers, and management education. Most importantly, it provides a novel tool and a set of keywords to monitor the influence of the private sector on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.