Integrating Sustainable Practices Within Supply Chain Management: A Systems Perspective

Natalia G Vidal, Simon Croom

Abstract


Systems thinking is deeply connected to the concepts of supply chain and sustainability and yet, the study of sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) practices has been fragmented, with most studies investigating practices in isolation. This paper proposes a conceptual framework that integrates SSCM practices. We start by conducting a systematic literature review of existing research on SSCM practices. Keyword searches of academic articles in published in English up to January 2016 were conducted in four major databases. Only studies designed around one or more SSCM practices were included in the final sample, which comprised of 96 articles. The systematic literature review identified six categories of SSCM practices: organizational and strategic management; sustainability and corporate social responsibility standards; specific social and environmental practices; sustainable procurement; relationship with suppliers; and strategic partnerships. We drew from systems theory to propose an integrative framework of SSCM practices based on findings of the systematic literature review. Integration of practices can decrease the need for trade-offs when implementing sustainability in supply chains and may improve supply chain effectiveness. In addition, this study suggests potential avenues for developing research and practice of SSCM in a way that better addresses major sustainability challenges.

Keywords


sustainable supply chain management; sustainable practices; systems theory; integration; systematic literature review

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