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Tensions in sustainable supply chain management

14 February 2019

In his PhD thesis, Chengyong Xiao applied three theoretical perspectives to develop a thorough understanding about tensions in Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM). Xiao studied the relationship between corporate sustainability performance and corporate financial performance. He found that firms in countries with higher levels of sustainability performance generally find it more difficult to capitalize on corporate sustainability performance than their counterparts in countries with relatively low levels of sustainability performance.

Xiao also explored the effect of institutional pressures in driving firms to overcome temporal tensions in SSCM. He found that in countries with low levels of sustainability performance, firms with considerable slack resources are more responsive to stakeholder pressures than their peers with limited slack resources. In contrast, in countries with high levels of sustainability performance, there are no significant differences between firms with and without considerable slack resources in their responsiveness to stakeholder pressures.

Alternative response

In the last chapter Xiao delved into the buying firm and applied the paradox theory to explore how purchasing and sustainability managers are coping with the tensions in SSCM in an emerging-market context. While he found strong evidence for a persisting instrumental perspective (in which financial goals are given higher priority over social and/or environmental goals) in both the sensemaking and practices of purchasing and sustainability managers, Xiao also observed an alternative response, taken primarily by sustainability managers that he labelled as ‘contextualizing’.

More information

See also the full thesis: Tensions in sustainable supply chain management: instrumental, institutional, and paradoxical perspectives

Last modified:16 September 2019 11.46 a.m.
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