To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Sustainable supply chains: a framework for environmental scanning practices

Nathalie Fabbe-Costes (CRET-LOG and Faculty of Economics and Management, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence, France)
Christine Roussat (CRET-LOG, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence, France and IUT d’Allier, Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France)
Margaret Taylor (School of Management, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK)
Andrew Taylor (School of Management, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 28 April 2014



The purpose of this paper is to explore the empirical reality of environmental scanning (ES) practices in sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) contexts. In particular it tests a conceptual framework proposed in 2011 by Fabbe-Costes et al.


The empirical data for this research were obtained from 45 semi-structured interviews with key informants, combined with a discussion of the main results with a focus group of supply chain experts. These data are compared with the literature and brought to bear on the framework.


The research finds both breadth and depth in the scope of sustainability scanning practices of the respondent group and provides evidence of multi-level scanning, with all respondents describing scanning activity at the societal level. It further demonstrates the adoption of multiple and diverse scanning targets at all levels in the conceptual framework. The articulation and ranking of scanning targets for SSCM at all levels informs the development of priorities for practice. The paper also makes some observations about the boundaries of the scanning process.

Practical implications

The results provide managers with concrete guidance about what to scan in sustainable supply chain contexts. The validated framework can serve as a practical tool to assist managers with the organization and prioritization of their ES activities.


The paper is among the first to address the role of ES in sustainable supply chain contexts. It highlights the need for a multi-level framework for such scanning activities and opens up a debate about their implementation.



This research uses data collected within the research project: “Sustainable Supply Chain Scanning” supported by the French PREDIT 4 (a government-sponsored national research initiative in France) and funded by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). The authors gratefully acknowledge the DEMETER's members of the focus group. They also gratefully acknowledge the cooperation in data gathering (for the semi-structured interviews) of the French colleagues participating in the research project: Blandine Ageron, Marie-Laurence Caron-Fasan, Marie-Christine Chalus-Sauvannet, Olivier Lavastre and Nicolas Lesca, (CERAG-Grenoble); Cendrine Fons and Anne Rollet (CRET-LOG-Aix-Marseille), Stéphane Sirjean (Jonction) and Isabelle Bardin (Cluster Paca Logistique).


Fabbe-Costes, N., Roussat, C., Taylor, M. and Taylor, A. (2014), "Sustainable supply chains: a framework for environmental scanning practices", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 664-694.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited