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Benchmarking supply chain sustainability: insights from a field study

Claudia Colicchia (Logistics Research Centre, Carlo Cattaneo University – LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)
Marco Melacini (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy)
Sara Perotti (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




Given the relevance of supply chain sustainability, the aim of the present paper is threefold: first, to investigate the strategies currently undertaken by companies in the supply chain sustainability arena, and, second, to find out which phase of the supply chain is at the forefront in the implementation of initiatives towards more sustainable supply chains. Finally, the criteria commonly used for priority‐setting amongst different initiatives within the same supply chain phase are identified.


A three‐pronged methodology was adopted. First, a framework was developed to identify the initiatives towards supply chain sustainability. Second, the framework was applied to a set of multinational companies by examining their environmental reporting, thus to assess the adoption of each initiative. Third, a further in‐depth investigation of three companies was finally performed in order to provide additional insights on the obtained results.


The research offers a benchmark of primary multinational companies with respect to the supply chain sustainability initiatives and their level of adoption.

Research limitations/implications

The examined set of companies, although representative (i.e. the analysed companies operate in industries in which the environmental concern is particularly critical), is limited. However, the present paper contributes to the knowledge on supply chain sustainability and captures variations in theory, paving the way for new research.

Practical implications

The paper provides an instrument to evaluate and compare companies in terms of supply chain sustainability and highlights the main challenges that companies have to confront.


The originality of the paper lies in the adoption of a supply chain perspective to investigate sustainable initiatives.



Colicchia, C., Melacini, M. and Perotti, S. (2011), "Benchmarking supply chain sustainability: insights from a field study", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 705-732.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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