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Building sustainability in logistics operations: a research agenda

Asoke Dey (College of Business Administration, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Paul LaGuardia (College of Business Administration, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Mahesh Srinivasan (College of Business Administration, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




The purpose of this study is to examine the current state of sustainability efforts within the field of supply chain management, more specifically supply chain logistics operations, and to identify opportunities and provide recommendations for firms to follow sustainable operations. This study also aims to stimulate further research within the area of sustainable logistics operations.


The reasons why it is important to implement sustainability into supply chain operations is discussed. Based on a review of the extant literature, various areas within the logistics function where sustainability can be implemented are then presented. Some short‐term and long‐term recommendations for the successful implementation of sustainability in the logistics function of supply chains are provided.


There has been very little work done to understand the role and importance of logistics in an organization's quest towards sustainability. For firms to implement a sustainability strategy in their supply chain operations, the logistics function needs to play a prominent role because of the magnitude of costs involved and the opportunity to identify and eliminate inefficiencies and reduce the carbon footprint.

Practical implications

Firms in their quest for sustainable logistics operations must start early and start simple. A top management commitment is required for such efforts to be successful. Also, firms need to be able to visualize and map out their supply chains and benchmark their sustainability efforts with other firms in their industry.

Social implications

Firms need to follow sustainable practices in their overall operations and in their logistics operations in particular because not only does it have financial and other intangible benefits, but it is also the right thing to do. Firms have a great social responsibility especially with respect to use of non‐renewable sources of energy and materials and also with respect to how their products are used and handled once they reach the end of their life cycles.


This paper is the first of its kind which examines the state of sustainability within the field of supply chain logistics operations and identifies areas and sets the agenda for future research in this field.



Dey, A., LaGuardia, P. and Srinivasan, M. (2011), "Building sustainability in logistics operations: a research agenda", Management Research Review, Vol. 34 No. 11, pp. 1237-1259.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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