Next Article in Journal
Influence of Increasing Electrification of Passenger Vehicle Fleet on Carbon Dioxide Emissions in Finland
Previous Article in Journal
Circular Economy in Home Textiles: Motivations of IKEA Consumers in Sweden
 
 
Article
Peer-Review Record

Changes in Sustainability Priorities in Organisations due to the COVID-19 Outbreak: Averting Environmental Rebound Effects on Society

Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5031; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125031
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5031; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125031
Received: 21 May 2020 / Revised: 17 June 2020 / Accepted: 18 June 2020 / Published: 19 June 2020

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Dear Authors,

Overall, this manuscript is a reading of a very average interest. The purpose of this paper is to analyses how the outbreak has affected organisations and their sustainability priorities, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The paper presents the results obtained, with a response rate of 5.6%. My recommendations are presented below.

  • Structure: It has a logical structure.
  • Consistency between title, abstract and the article itself: It is ok.
  • Quality of the state-of-the art (Literature, ongoing/past research): The introduction must be documented with relevant studies.
  • Originality: This paper presents a medium level of originality.
  • Appropriateness of the Methodology: It needs to be improved.
  • Language: It needs to be improved.

 

Introduction

The introduction must present several case studies in this field. The paper must present other studies, the review of the literature for sustainability. The introduction should be restructured and target Covid19 and sustainability.

Data

Presentation of the advantages of the instrument used. Restructuring the present details.

 

Figures:

Figures: the axes of the variables must be displayed

 

Results:

The results obtained must be presented in a structured and detailed manner. What are the established hypotheses?

 

New section:

A Discussion section would strengthen this work.

 

Best regards,

Reviewer

Author Response

Dear Authors,

Overall, this manuscript is a reading of a very average interest. The purpose of this paper is to analyses how the outbreak has affected organisations and their sustainability priorities, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The paper presents the results obtained, with a response rate of 5.6%. My recommendations are presented below.

Structure: It has a logical structure.

Consistency between title, abstract and the article itself: It is ok.

Quality of the state-of-the art (Literature, ongoing/past research): The introduction must be documented with relevant studies.

Originality: This paper presents a medium level of originality.

Appropriateness of the Methodology: It needs to be improved.

Language: It needs to be improved.

Thank you. The paper has been revised by an English Science Editor.

Introduction

The introduction must present several case studies in this field. The paper must present other studies, the review of the literature for sustainability. The introduction should be restructured and target Covid19 and sustainability.

Thank you for your suggestion. We have included more literature on sustainability and crises (from line 35) in the introduction, and also literature about organisations and their sustainability priorities (from line 71), in order to highlight the contribution of the present paper. We have discussed both aspects in the last section (from line 284). Moreover, a Figure (Figure 1 in the revised version) has been included, including a key point of the literature in this field (line 75).

To our knowledge, this is one of the first papers that analyse this topic. Because of this, we have clarified this aspect in line 271: This paper is one of the first that analyse how the outbreak has affected organisations (as an integral part of societies) and their sustainability priorities.

Data

Presentation of the advantages of the instrument used. Restructuring the present details.

Thank you for your comment. Two approaches have been included: 1) A “static” approach, comparing the responses of some groups at a particular time (using Kruskal-Wallis test), focusing on a particular variable (countries, organisation type, organisation size and years working with sustainability), and 2) a “dynamic” approach, comparing the situation for each group Prior to and During COVID-19 and calculating the difference.

Given the five-point scale that it was used in the sustainability priority questions, a non-parametric test was chosen (Kruskal-Wallis test) instead a parametric approach, following (Fricker, 2001).

Figures:

Figures: the axes of the variables must be displayed

Thank you for your comment. The Figure (number 1 in the first version, and Figure 3 in the revised version) is self-explanatory (line 187: Figure 1. Number of responses from the countries where the respondent’s organisations have headquarters or are based. Countries used for the comparison analysis are represented in green, and in red the ones that choose ‘No response’). The horizontal axis is properly labelled and the vertical y self-explanatory.

 Results:

The results obtained must be presented in a structured and detailed manner. What are the established hypotheses?

Thank you for your comment. The approach of this research is based on critical realism (thus having objectives) and not on positivism (which demands hypotheses). This is in line with the epistemological position of critical realism as specified by Saunders et al. (2007), Jupp (2006), and Brymann and Bell (2007), who indicated that in pragmatism research questions should be used, in positivism hypotheses should be used, and in critical realism objectives should be used.

A new sub-section has been included (3.1 in the revised version) in order to clarify the results.

New section:

A Discussion section would strengthen this work.

Thank you. We have combined the ‘Discussion and conclusions’ section, where we link our results to the literature (from line 271).

 

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report

Dear Authors. This is clearly an important area for investigation.  I applaud your proactive efforts The paper certainly piqued my interest in changes in priorities for organizations in all sectors as a result of the multiple crises unfolding around the world. However, this paper begs further development and refinement.  Above all, the information about the survey itself and therefore also about results and interpretations remains at a very general level. For example, how are the three main categories of economic, social and environmental concerns articulated and presented to respondents?  In this regard, the multiple tables are helpful only to a certain point. The writing is often unclear and exhibits numerous errors. I would urge you to pursue a thorough revision, offering more context for and methodological details about their survey so that the results and interpretations can be better understood and then assessed by the reader. Best wishes in the pursuit of your important work.

Author Response

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

Dear Authors. This is clearly an important area for investigation. I applaud your proactive efforts. The paper certainly piqued my interest in changes in priorities for organizations in all sectors as a result of the multiple crises unfolding around the world. However, this paper begs further development and refinement.  Above all, the information about the survey itself and therefore also about results and interpretations remains at a very general level.

Thank you. This is the seminal paper and others will follow with more details and analyses.

For example, how are the three main categories of economic, social and environmental concerns articulated and presented to respondents? In this regard, the multiple tables are helpful only to a certain point.

We have included more information in the methods section (from line 105). They are articulated as three of the four dimensions of sustainability (the fourth being the time dimension, which is analysed through the changes in points of time). The questions about the priorities referred to the dimensions in general (based on previous works, such as Lozano and García, 2020). We are not focussing on the items in each category since this would make the survey extremely onerous and the response rate will be much lower. This is a seminal paper on how organisations and their sustainability efforts are being affected by COVID-19. We will follow this one up with more papers.

The writing is often unclear and exhibits numerous errors.

Thank you. The paper has been revised by an English Science Editor.

I would urge you to pursue a thorough revision, offering more context for and methodological details about their survey so that the results and interpretations can be better understood and then assessed by the reader.

Thank you. The methods section has been completed with more details (from line 107). 

 

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 3 Report

Title: Changes in sustainability priorities in organisations due to the COVID-19 outbreak: Averting environmental rebound effects on society

 

This paper analyses how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected organisations and their sustainability priorities. The topic is interesting and matches nicely the journal scope. The large scale of survey data used in the paper is quite impressive. However, there are a few weak areas which the authors must address carefully before this study could be published in Sustainability.

  1. The structure of your introduction is probably not the best. As a result, the potential contribution of the paper is not apparent. The paper is not well motivated because the literature on organizational sustainability with disasters is not well-reviewed. Why is it important to examine the organizationas sustainability priorities have changed during the COVID-19 rather than various other effects (ex. Uncontacted social activities and business practices) analyzed by previous literatures?
  2. Please provide more proper references while providing survey procedures and treating a non-response bias (and statistical test result you have done).
  3.  
  4. You mentioned that in page 1 “A survey was sent to 11,657 organisations to  
  5. analyse such changes in priorities, with a response rate of 5.60%.”. However, you mentioned again about sample size as “ A survey was sent to more than 12,000 organisations worldwide to analyse such changes in priorities, with a response rate of 5.60%”. Please double check the sample size you used.
  6. Discussion: in general, the discussion needs to be improved and tightened up linked to the results a bit more. What is it that we have learnt new from your effort? You may have to highlight your contribution a bit more clearly. You may also add theoretical contribution of your study.
  7.  
  8. Please add the limitation of your study and direction for future study
  9.  
  10. The text of paper should be thoroughly proof-read and edited. All of the typographical errors, grammatical errors, odd expressions and lapses in English language should be double-checked and amended by the careful proofreading. (
  1. “Error! Reference source not found” appeared in manuscript.

Ex. Sentences appeared in abstract and conclusion are too identical)

Author Response

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

Title: Changes in sustainability priorities in organisations due to the COVID-19 outbreak: Averting environmental rebound effects on society

This paper analyses how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected organisations and their sustainability priorities. The topic is interesting and matches nicely the journal scope. The large scale of survey data used in the paper is quite impressive. However, there are a few weak areas which the authors must address carefully before this study could be published in Sustainability.

The structure of your introduction is probably not the best. As a result, the potential contribution of the paper is not apparent. The paper is not well motivated because the literature on organizational sustainability with disasters is not well-reviewed.

Thank you for your suggestion. We have included literature on organizational sustainability with disasters (from line 35) in the introduction, and also literature about organisations and their sustainability priorities (from line 71), in order to highlight the contribution of the present paper. We have discussed both aspects in the last section (from line 284).

Why is it important to examine the organizational sustainability priorities have changed during the COVID-19 rather than various other effects (ex. Uncontacted social activities and business practices) analyzed by previous literatures?

Thank you. As we said in the previous comment, we have included previous literature about organisations and their sustainability priorities (from line 71), in order to highlight the contribution to theory of the present paper.

Please provide more proper references while providing survey procedures and treating a non-response bias (and statistical test result you have done).

We are following the recommendations of Radler and Love (2018). We are only using full responses for our analysis, i.e. we have eliminated data points that were incomplete. The very few nonresponse items left in the final database were treated as empty cells and specified in the limitations of the methods. We have included this idea in the manuscript: line 105: The few non-response items were treated as empty cells in the final database (following Radler and Love, 2018).

You mentioned that in page 1 “A survey was sent to 11,657 organisations to  analyse such changes in priorities, with a response rate of 5.60%.”. However, you mentioned again about sample size as “ A survey was sent to more than 12,000 organisations worldwide to analyse such changes in priorities, with a response rate of 5.60%”. Please double check the sample size you used.

Thank you for your comment. The correct number is 11,657 organisations, so we have checked the error in line 278: A survey was sent to almost 12,000 organisations worldwide with the object of analysing their answers in respect of any changes in their priorities due to COVID-19. This achieved a response rate of 5.60% after keeping the survey open for four weeks.

Discussion: in general, the discussion needs to be improved and tightened up linked to the results a bit more. What is it that we have learnt new from your effort? You may have to highlight your contribution a bit more clearly. You may also add theoretical contribution of your study.

Thank you. We have included about organisations and their sustainability priorities (from line 71), in order to highlight the contribution of the present paper. We have discussed both aspects in the last section (from line 284). Moreover, a Figure (Figure 1 in the revised version) has been included, including a key point of the literature in this field (line 75).

Please add the limitation of your study and direction for future study

Thank you. There are proposals for further research from line 301 (that implies the limitations of the study): As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, more research into organisations and their sustainability efforts during this period is needed. Some lines of research could include: Investigating how the outbreak has affected the internal priorities of an organisation (e.g. whether operations or management have been more affected); analysing differences across continents; linking governmental decisions and those of organisations; and comparing the benefits and challenges of moving towards a more digitised world.

The text of paper should be thoroughly proof-read and edited. All of the typographical errors, grammatical errors, odd expressions and lapses in English language should be double-checked and amended by the careful proofreading. (“Error! Reference source not found” appeared in manuscript. Ex. Sentences appeared in abstract and conclusion are too identical)

Thank you for your recommendation. We are sorry, because when the manuscript was transformed in the platform, these errors appeared, but now, they are already checked [line 158: A Kruskal-Wallis test was carried out to test the mean differences between the organisation types (Table 1); line 168: As  Table 2 shows, all organisations types reduced their priorities on environmental issues, and increased their priorities on social issues; line 182: Figure 3 shows the breakdown of the countries where the respondent’s organisations have headquarters or are based; line 191: As Table 3 shows there were statistical differences in the environmental dimension between these countries, prior to and during the COVID-19 outbreak; line 205: The averages for organisations in the eight countries sustainability priorities were calculated prior to and during the COVID-19 outbreak, then the differences between the two periods were compared, as shown in Table 4; line 223: A Kruskal-Wallis test was done to test the mean differences between the following six groups in accordance with the organisation’s number of employees (see Table 5); line 234: As Table 6 shows, organisations of all sizes reduced their environmental priorities during COVID-19, and increased their social priorities; line 245: A Kruskal-Wallis test was done to test the mean differences between the following six groups according to the years that the organisation had been working with sustainability (see Table 7); line 256: As Table 8shows, organisations, regardless of years working with sustainability, reduced their environmental priorities during the COVID-19 outbreak but increased their social priorities.]

The paper has also been revised by an English Science Editor and we have modified slightly the abstract.

 

 

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Round 2

Reviewer 1 Report

Dear Authors,

The Discussions section should discuss the main results (punctually).
Presentation of the Kruskal-Wallis method with advantages and disadvantages. Why is this method used?

Author Response

Thank you for your comment.

We have provided a better link to the literature and improved the discussion and conclusions section. We have also improved the methods section to provide more insights into the paper analyses.

 Two approaches have been included: 1) A “static” approach, comparing the responses of some groups at a particular time (using Kruskal-Wallis test), focusing on a particular variable (countries, organisation type, organisation size and years working with sustainability), and 2) a “dynamic” approach, comparing the situation for each group Prior to and During COVID-19 and calculating the difference.

Given the five-point scale that it was used in the sustainability priority questions, a non-parametric test was chosen (Kruskal-Wallis test) instead a parametric approach, following (Fricker, 2001).

Reviewer 2 Report

Dear Authors: While I appreciate the fact that this paper is intended to be the first in a series based on your extensive survey, I still do not feel that the meanings and contexts for the dimensions of issue orientations you examine are sufficiently explained for the reader. The fact that you term this paper "seminal" underscores even more the importance of conceptual and methodological elaboration. Thus,  I feel that the key points in my initial review still stand. Even within the limits of space for this journal, I believe there should be further development of key ideas in the paper. Best wishes in your work.

Author Response

We have aimed to provide factual answers to the reviewer´s comments on the previous revision. We are sorry s/he does not feel that the meanings and contexts are not sufficiently explained; however, we have provided a better link to the literature and improved the discussion and conclusions section. We have also improved the methods section to provide more insights into the paper analyses.

Reviewer 3 Report

I confirm that revision is satisfactory and this paper is currently publishable in Sustainability.  I appreciate the author(s)’s every effort!

Author Response

Thank you very much for your encouragement. We will endeavour to triple check the English language once we have received the proofs.

Back to TopTop