Sustainability research has been expanding rapidly during recent decades. Such research takes various forms with the identification of mixed results. Even though there are several review articles on sustainability with valuable insights, the time dimension aspect of sustainability is totally missing in addition to lack of well-developed framework. This paper systematically reviews previous sustainability studies published in the refereed scientific journals for the past two decades to understand the evolution of sustainability issues in the business context and solutions proposed until now. The study categorizes the popular sustainability practices into short-and long-term practices based on the time effect, and link them with different forms of organizational capabilities and sustainability performance. The paper further proposes a two-dimensional sustainability framework that incorporates practices, capabilities and performance, and the balancing issues between short-and long-term sustainability. At the end, it suggests potential research directions for future research as well. Graphical abstract Highlights We systematically reviews the past two decades sustainability studies published in the refereed scientific journals We use time dimension to classify and understand sustainability benefits Review of sustainability theories, practices, capabilities, and performance Classification of sustainability practices, capabilities, and sustainability performance Model & propositions development We categorized sustainability practices and performances into short-and long-term perspectives for effective managerial decisions We propose research propositions relating firm's capability and its implementation of short-and long-term sustainability practices and sustainability performance. We draw attention to the future role of organizational capabilities and their interactions with sustainability practices to achieve better performance.