Factors influencing environmental performance: a bibliometric review and future research agenda

Jingxiao Zhang*, Zhiyue Zhang, Pablo Ballesteros-Pérez, Martin Skitmore, Guoliang Yang, Simon P. Philbin, Qingchang Lu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental performance allows measuring the existing gap between countries regarding their environmental policy objectives. Improving environmental performance also allows countries to achieve their sustainable development goals. However, a systematic identification of factors influencing environmental performance constitutes a premise to improve it and such a review of factors has not been conducted in previous research. This paper develops a quantitative literature review of the factors influencing environmental performance in which a total of 84 journal papers were identified by keyword retrieval between 2004 and 2019. Literature metrological and literature content analyses are performed and two major research outcomes are obtained: first, a list of environmental performance influencing factors and a classification of the five main research streams related to environmental performance: enterprise, government, economy, technology and society. Second, building on the previous classification, a research agenda is proposed which points out current shortcomings and potential research directions for environmental performance research. The results of this piece of research provides a theoretical reference for improving environmental performance. It can also help countries target better environmental management practices when seeking global sustainable development. Highlights 84 journal papers are analysed with metrological and content analysis. Grounded theory produces a list of factors affecting environmental performance. Environmental performance factors are classified in five relevant categories. These categories are: enterprise, government, economy, society and technology. A research agenda is proposed for meeting the 2030 Sustainable development goals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Urban Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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