Based on the rising social and political pressure regarding sustainable development of corporations, sustainability is getting a more and more significant issue for the business management. To control the sustainable development of a corporation it is essential to assess the performance for benchmarking purposes or to monitor the developments over time. In the last years several methods have been developed for this purpose. In this paper two methods, a monetary and a non-monetary, are introduced and applied to assess the sustainability performance of the petroleum majors.

The paper in hand presents the concept of sustainable development and explains two methods to assess the associated performance: the Sustainable Value Added (SVA) and the Composite Sustainable Development Index (CSDI). The SVA is a monetary approach, which compares the value creation resulting from the use of a resource with a benchmark according to the concept of opportunity costs and is able to combine the ecological, the social and the economic dimension in this way. The CSDI is a non-monetary method, which is based on the analytical hierarchical process determining the contribution of a single indicator of one of the three dimensions to the total sustainability. The result is a single aggregated measure, which can be compared with other companies or the last years.

Using the data of sustainability and annual reports, the two methods are applied to the petroleum majors: BP, Shell, Total, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. Based on the findings the approaches are compared and their applicability is discussed. A limitation of the paper is the data availability, for the application of the SVA-method the social dimension is neglected.

The results allow a critical review of the methods by comparing the results of the monetary and the non-monetary assessment and give answers about the expressiveness of the different approaches. The conclusions of the study should serve as a recommendation for petroleum companies, how to assess their sustainability performance or at least give an idea about potential assessment procedures in regard of sustainable development.

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