Supply chains’ sustainability trajectories and resilience: a learning perspective in turbulent environments

Sauer, Philipp C, Silva, Minelle E and Schleper, Martin C (2022) Supply chains’ sustainability trajectories and resilience: a learning perspective in turbulent environments. International Journal of Operations and Production Management. ISSN 0144-3577

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Abstract

Purpose
While various supply chain (SC) sustainability investigations exist, their connection to supply chain resilience (SCRes) remains largely unexplored. To fill this gap, the authors answer the question: “How do firms' sustainability actions affect their SCs' resilience and sustainability trajectories in turbulent environments?" by exploring the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach
The authors conducted 10 case studies in five industries located in six European countries. A total of 19 semi-structured interviews and relevant secondary data were collected and analyzed in reference to SC sustainability learning and the literature on SCRes approaches (i.e. engineering, ecological and social-ecological).

Findings
31 SC actions referring to different sustainability dimensions were identified to map SCRes learning through a temporal, spatial and functional scale analysis. While five cases are related to an engineering approach focused on “bouncing back” to pre-pandemic goals, three cases were focused on “bouncing forward” as part of an ecological approach. Moreover, the authors identified the existence of two social-ecological resilience cases which developed long-term actions, updating functional set-ups transcending the SC level. The results furthermore illustrate an influence of the SCRes approaches on SC sustainability learning, generating three different paths: flat, flat ascending and ascending SC sustainability trajectories.

Research limitations/implications
The study develops an overview of the adoption of SCRes approaches due to temporal, spatial and functional scales, and their effect on SC sustainability trajectories through exploitation and exploration capabilities. Future research should elaborate on potential moderators in the proposed relationships.

Practical implications
A better understanding of the link between SC sustainability actions and SCRes will help practitioners to make better informed decisions in turbulent environments.

Originality/value
Unlike previous research, this paper provides empirical evidence on engineering, ecological and social-ecological SCRes approaches, as well as SC sustainability trajectories.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Supply Chain Resilience, Ecological Resilience, Engineering Resilience, Social-ecological Resilience, COVID-19pandemic, Sustainability Trajectories
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 04 May 2022 12:44
Last Modified: 18 May 2022 11:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/105629

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