Material Sustainability and Value Creation: Adapting SASB Standards in the Iranian Context

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Candidate., Department of Accounting, Faculty Economic and Management, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran.

2 Associate Prof., Department of Accounting, Faculty Economic and Management, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran.

3 Associate Prof., Faculty of Education and Economics, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden.

4 Prof., Fogelman College of Business and Economics, University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.


Objective: Corporate sustainability, focused on the environment, society, and governance (ESG), has garnered global attention from investors and observers. In recent decades, a new form of investment, known as "sustainability investment," has attracted interest from companies, institutional investors, and social advocacy groups. This research aims to investigate the impact of investment in material sustainability activities on the value creation of companies in the oil and gas, metals, mines, and coal mining industries listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange from 2016 to 2021.
Methods: To determine material sustainability activities, this research matched disclosed activities in the board of directors' report and explanatory notes with SASB standards. Economic value added (EVA) and market value added (MVA) value creation performance criteria were used to measure value creation and compared with traditional performance evaluation criteria (ROA) and the combined criterion (q-tobin). Companies were divided into two groups based on their level of investment in material sustainability activities, and separate regressions based on panel data were estimated using four methods to measure value creation. The bootstrap method was used for the residuals of the model to compare the power of explaining the models. Additionally, the study compared the average value creation of each group of companies using the independent group's t-test.
Results: The results suggest that regression models exhibit stronger explanatory capability when utilizing EVA and MVA measures for assessing value creation, in contrast to the utilization of q-tobin and return on total assets criteria. Companies with higher investments in tangible sustainability initiatives exhibit greater average value creation compared to companies that have allocated fewer resources to such endeavors.
Conclusion: The findings of this study highlight the importance of sustainability investment and its potential impact on value creation for companies in the oil and gas, metals, mines, and coal mining industries listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange. By identifying material sustainability activities and measuring value creation using EVA and MVA, this study provides valuable insights into the relationship between sustainability investment and corporate performance. The significance of this research lies in its focus on value creation as an indicator of performance, which aligns with the main objective of sustainability to benefit all stakeholders. Previous empirical studies have primarily examined the impact of sustainability on corporate performance without distinguishing between material and immaterial sustainability activities or considering the specific effects of the industry. However, the SASB standardization body emphasizes that sustainability indicators are not equally important for stakeholders and that material sustainability issues vary depending on the industry. Therefore, this study identifies material sustainability activities for the first time in Iran by matching SASB criteria with disclosed activities in the financial reports of selected companies. By analyzing the effects of these activities on the value creation of companies, this research provides evidence that investing in sustainability can lead to better financial performance. Moreover, given the need to pay attention to the type of activity when evaluating the performance of corporate sustainability activities, this study focuses on companies involved in the extraction and processing of mineral materials listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange. The operations of companies in this industry can have significant adverse effects on the environment, making it essential to examine their sustainability practices. In conclusion, this study sheds light on the importance of sustainability investment and its potential impact on value creation for companies in the mining and mineral processing industry. By identifying material sustainability activities and measuring value creation using EVA and MVA, this research provides valuable insights into the relationship between sustainability investment and corporate performance. The findings of this study can help companies make informed decisions about sustainability investment and contribute to the growing body of research on corporate sustainability.


Main Subjects

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