Decision theory in sustainable supply chain management: a literature review

Alexander, Anthony, Walker, Helen and Naim, Mohamad (2014) Decision theory in sustainable supply chain management: a literature review. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 19 (5/6). pp. 504-522. ISSN 1359-8546

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Abstract

Purpose
– This study aims to aid theory building, the use of decision theory (DT) concepts in sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) research is examined.

Design/methodology/approach
– An abductive approach considers two DT concepts, Snowden’s Cynefin framework for sense-making and Keeney’s value-focussed decision analysis, in a systematic literature review of 160 peer-reviewed papers in English.

Findings
– Around 60 per cent of the papers on decision-making in SSCM come from operational research (OR), which makes explicit use of DT. These are almost all normative and rationalist and focussed on structured decision contexts. Some exceptions seek to address unstructured decision contexts via Complex Adaptive Systems or Soft Systems Methodology. Meanwhile, a second set, around 16 per cent, comes from business ethics and are empirical, behavioural decision research. Although this set does not explicitly refer to DT, the empirical evidence here supports Keeney’s value-focussed analysis.

Research limitations/implications
– There is potential for theory building in SSCM using DT, but the research only addresses SSCM research (including corporate responsibility and ethics) and not DT in SCM or wider sustainable development research.

Practical implications
– Use of particular decision analysis methods for SSCM may be improved by better understanding different decision contexts.

Social implications
– The research shows potential synthesis with ethical DT absent from DT and SCM research.

Originality/value
– Empirical behavioural decision analysis for SSCM is considered alongside normative, rational analysis for the first time. Value-focussed DT appears useful for unstructured decision contexts found in SSCM.

Originality/value
– Empirical, behavioural decision analysis for SSCM is considered alongside normative rational analysis for the first time. Value-focussed DT appears useful for unstructured decision contexts found in SSCM.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Strategy, Decision-making, Ethics, Supply chain management, Business ethics, Sustainability, Corporate responsibility, Operational research, Decision theory, Sustainable supply chains, Cynefin
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Business and Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Anthony Alexander
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2018 10:25
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2018 10:25
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/73657

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