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Journal cover: Supply Chain Management: An International Journal

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1359-8546

Online from: 1996

Subject Area: Operations and Logistics Management

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Themes and challenges in making supply chains environmentally sustainable


Document Information:
Title:Themes and challenges in making supply chains environmentally sustainable
Author(s):Maisam Abbasi, (Division of Packaging Logistics, Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden and Center for Complexity in Operations and Logistics Management, Lund, Sweden), Fredrik Nilsson, (Division of Packaging Logistics, Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden and Center for Complexity in Operations and Logistics Management, Lund, Sweden)
Citation:Maisam Abbasi, Fredrik Nilsson, (2012) "Themes and challenges in making supply chains environmentally sustainable", Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 17 Iss: 5, pp.517 - 530
Keywords:Environment, Logistics, Research, Supply chain management, Sustainability, Sustainable development, Transport operations
Article type:Literature review
DOI:10.1108/13598541211258582 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:Received 2 August 2010Revised 1 March 201123 May 201120 July 201124 August 2011Accepted 26 August 2011The research project “Governing transitions towards low-carbon energy and transport systems for 2050” (see www.lets2050.se), financed by Naturvårdsverket, Energimyndigheten, Trafikverket och Vinnova in Sweden, has contributed to this work.
Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this article is to explore themes and challenges in making supply chains environmentally sustainable.

Design/methodology/approach – The study began with a systematic review, and content analysis of articles in top-ranking related journals from logistics, transport, sustainability and environmental areas, and ended with research propositions contributing to the further advancement of supply chain management.

Findings – The findings illustrate the major themes published in 18 journals concentrating on sustainable supply chains with special focus on environmental issues. From the systematic review five major areas of challenges for supply chain management are derived: costs, complexity, operationalisation, mindset and cultural changes, and uncertainties. From all of these areas synthesising discussions are provided and research propositions suggested. It is concluded that there is a great need for models and frameworks that consider the complexity involved, take holistic perspectives, and challenge the basic assumptions underlying most of the research published (i.e. reductionism, positivism and economic growth).

Research limitations/implications – Sustainability in this article is mainly related to environmental issues. Analysis of complex interactions between environmental, social and economic aspects might provide opportunities for future research.

Practical implications – The results presented in this paper provide a systematic structure for classifying issues related to logistics sustainability; something which will be beneficial for managers and policy-makers when they approach sustainable supply chain management challenges.

Originality/value – This paper provides propositions for research based on the emergent outcome of challenges that can guide research, industry and policy-makers in future sustainability efforts.



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