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Sustainable supply chain management: evolution and future directions

Craig R. Carter (Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
P. Liane Easton (Center for Logistics Management, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 1 February 2011




The purpose of this paper is to conduct a systematic review of the sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) literature in the principal logistics and supply chain management journals, across a 20‐year time frame.


The authors use a systematic literature review methodology. This methodology allows for the minimization of researcher bias and the maximization of reliability and replicability. The study's empirical validity is further enhanced by demonstrating high levels of inter‐coder reliability across families of codes.


The field of SSCM has evolved from a perspective and investigation of standalone research in social and environmental areas; through a corporate social responsibility perspective; to the beginnings of the convergence of perspectives of sustainability as the triple bottom line and the emergence of SSCM as a theoretical framework. While the SSCM research has become more theoretically rich and methodologically rigorous, there are numerous opportunities for further advancing theory, methodology, and the managerial relevance of future inquiries.

Research limitations/implications

The trends and gaps identified through our analysis allow us to develop a cogent agenda to guide future SSCM research.

Practical implications

The current perspectives of SSCM hold important implications for managers, by directing limited resources toward projects which intersect environmental and/or social performance, and economic performance.


The paper provides a systematic, rigorous, and methodologically valid review of the evolution of empirical SSCM research across a 20‐year time period.



Carter, C.R. and Liane Easton, P. (2011), "Sustainable supply chain management: evolution and future directions", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 46-62.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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