Social Sustainability as a Target Figure in Life Cycle Assessment: Development of a Catalogue of Criteria for Measuring the Social Dimension

  • Claudia HöselEmail author
  • Christina Hesse
  • Rico Pestinger
Part of the Sustainable Production, Life Cycle Engineering and Management book series (SPLCEM)


In contrast to the ecological sustainability dimension, the social dimension in science is less concretized and operationalized due to the inherent characteristics of social themes. The subject areas of social sustainability are sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another and thus very complex, mostly affecting both the individual level and society as a whole. Companies that wish to monitor compliance with social aspects, are therefore faced with the challenge of mapping and thus developing clear criteria for describing the social sustainability dimension. In this article, currently effective frameworks, process guidelines and management approaches are analyzed in terms of content. The derived results show five main categories of interest in social sustainability, whereby each can be sub-divided into sub-categories. Only 17% of all criteria could be identified as quantified. In addition, it is determined that the allocation of available data in a company or supply chain is feasible for several categories or subcategories. On the other hand, the close link with economic indicators allows for flexible analysis of social sustainability based on existing data applicable to the developed set of criteria.


Social sustainability Social indicators Social life cycle assessment Social sustainability management 


  1. 1.
    Enquête-Commission (1994) Protection of mankind and the environment. Die Industriegesellschaft gestalten, BonnGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Finkbeiner M, Schau, EM, Lehmann, A, Traverso, M (2010) Towards life cycle sustainability assessment. Sustainability 2(10):3309–3322. Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hansjürgens B (2015) Ökonomische und soziale Bewertungsansätze. In: Kaltschmitt M, Schebek L (eds) Umweltbewertung für Ingenieure: Methoden und Verfahren. Springer Vieweg, Berlin, pp 127–146Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Opielka M (2017) Soziale Nachhaltigkeit und Internalisierungsgesellschaft. In: Renn O (ed) Symposium: Soziale Nachhaltigkeit: Beiträge für das Symposium: Soziale Nachhaltigkeit. Books on Demand, NorderstedtGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Beck U (2017) Die Metamorphose der Welt. Suhrkamp, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Pufé I (2012) Nachhaltigkeitsmanagement. Hanser, MünchenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brunner, PH, Rechberger, H (2017) Handbook of material flow analysis: for environmental, resource, and waste engineers, 2nd Edn. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    VDI (2016) VDI 4800 Part 1: Resource efficiency—methodological principles and strategiesGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Klöpffer W, Grahl B (2009) Ökobilanz (LCA): ein Leitfaden für Ausbildung und Beruf. Wiley-VCH, WeinheimCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    ISO (2006) ISO 14040: Environmental management—Life cycle assessment—Principles and frameworkGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    UNEP/SETAC (2009) Guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products social and socio-economic LCA guidelines complementing environmental LCA and life cycle costing, contributing to the full assessment of goods and services within the context of sustainable development. United Nations Environment Programme, ParisGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sala, S, Vasta A, Mancini L, Dewulf J, Rosenbaum E (2015) Social life cycle assessment: state of the art and challenges for supporting product policies Publications Office, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Popovic T, Barbosa-Póvoa A, Kraslawski A, Carvalho A (2018) Quantitative indicators for social sustainability assessment of supply chains. J Clean Prod 180:748–768. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Barbosa-Póvoa AP, da Silva C, Carvalho A (2018) Opportunities and challenges in sustainable supply chain: an operations research perspective. Eur J Oper Res 268(2):399–431. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ahi, P, Searcy, C (2015) Measuring social issues in sustainable supply chains. Measuring Bus Excellence 19(1):33–45. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dubielzig, F (2009) Sozio-controlling im Unternehmen. Gabler, Wiesbaden. Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kühnen M, Hahn R (2018) Systemic social performance measurement: systematic literature review and explanations on the academic status quo from a product life-cycle perspective. J Clean Prod 205:690–705. Scholar
  18. 18.
    SAI (2014) SA8000: Social Accountability 8000Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    ISO (2015) ISO 14001: environmental management systems—requirements with guidance for useGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    ISO (2010) ISO 26000: guidance on social responsibilityGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mayring P (2010) Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse: Grundlagen und Techniken. Beltz, WeinheimCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Katsikea, E, Theodosiou, M, Morgan, RE (2015) Why people quit: explaining employee turnover intentions among export sales managers. In: International Business Review, vol.24 iss.3, pp. 367–379. Scholar
  23. 23.
    Cascio, WF (2010) Employment downsizing: causes, costs, and consequences. In: Stadtler L, Schmitt A, Klarner P, Straub T (eds) More than bricks in the wall: organizational perspectives for sustainable success gabler, Wiesbaden, pp 87–96. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Hösel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christina Hesse
    • 2
  • Rico Pestinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Competence, Communication and SportsMittweida University of Applied SciencesMittweidaGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Energy ManagementMittweida University of Applied SciencesMittweidaGermany

Personalised recommendations