Sustainability Covenants as a Financial Measure to Enhance the Efficiency of Companies
Keywords:Sustainability Covenants, Financial Covenants, Non-Financial Covenants, Economic Growth, Sustainability Performance Management, Management Control System, Business
This article aims to identify the status quo of sustainability covenants firstly, secondly analyze their possibilities in enhancing sustainability performance and thirdly present further research directions. Covenants are additional contractual agreements mainly used in financial contracts, e.g. loans. They often focus on financial performance indicators, e.g., equity and net debt ratio, which the borrower must fulfil. However, the purpose of this article is to present a new approach to non-financial covenants, so-called sustainability covenants. Therefore, also nowadays ecological and social challenges are addressed. Banks have a huge impact on sustainable development by introducing more non-financial indicators in evaluating the creditability of borrowers. As a key hypothesis, this article argues that the approach of integrating ecological and social objectives through non-financial covenants is underrepresented in economic and business practice. Therefore, this article wants to examine how those objectives can be integrated into the financial concept of covenants and rely on research towards an integrative sustainability approach. In addition, a systematic literature review was conducted from October 2022 to July 2023 to analyze the status quo and derive future research directions. The review was based on two databases – Google Scholar and Scopus. As one key result, it was revealed that there is scarce existing literature on sustainability covenants, which refers to them as a policy measure. Only a few publications analyze their usage in financial contracts. However, this study implies the necessity for further research on sustainability covenants, emphasizing that they are powerful indicators to enhance the sustainability performance of the borrower.
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