Supplier development for sustainability: contextual barriers in global supply chains

Busse, Christian, Schleper, Martin C, Niu, Menglei and Wagner, Stephan M (2016) Supplier development for sustainability: contextual barriers in global supply chains. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 46 (5). pp. 442-468. ISSN 0960-0035

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore contextual barriers to supplier development for sustainability (SDS) in global supply chains and managerial remedies to mitigate such barriers.

Design/methodology/approach – A dyadic case study design was adopted with a Western European buyer and six of its Chinese suppliers. The database consists of 41 interviews and 81 documents.

Findings – Contextual barriers to SDS in global supply chains derive from complexities in the sustainability concept, socio-economic differences, spatial and linguistic distance, as well as cultural differences between buyers and suppliers. Partial remedies include effective joint communications, an open organizational culture, and the fostering of cross-contextual understanding.

Research limitations/implications – The findings contribute to theory development at the intersection of sustainable and global supply chain management research. They help to explain why scarce sustainability-related progress in global supply chains has occurred in recent years.

Practical implications – The identified barriers facilitate managerial decision making that will expedite SDS progress in global contexts.

Social implications – By diffusing knowledge regarding available remedies, the study contributes to improving SDS effectiveness, thereby fostering sustainability capabilities and performance of suppliers.

Originality/value – This research highlights the criticality of contextual barriers to SDS. The barrier effects that stem from differing real-world conceptions of sustainability may inform future sustainable supply chain management research within and beyond SDS.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Supplier development, Sustainable supply chain management, Global supply chain, Barrier, Conceptions of sustainability, Dyadic case study, Goal-setting theory
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Business and Management
Subjects: T Technology > TS Manufactures > TS0155 Production management. Operations management
Depositing User: Martin Schleper
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2018 15:07
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2018 15:07

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