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Can we have it all? Sustainability trade-offs and cross-insurance mechanisms in supply chains

Mauro Fracarolli Nunes (EDC Paris Business School, OCRE-Lab, Coubervoie, Paris la Défense, France)
Camila Lee Park (Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, NEOMA Business School, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France)
Ely Laureano Paiva (Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo, Fundação Getulio Vargas, São Paulo, Brazil)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 25 June 2020

Issue publication date: 30 November 2020




The study investigates the interaction of sustainability dimensions in supply chains. Along with the analysis of sustainability trade-offs (i.e. prioritizing one dimension to the sacrifice of others), we develop and test the concept of cross-insurance mechanism (i.e. meeting of one sustainability goal possibly attenuating the effects of poor performance in another).


Through the analysis of a 20-variation vignette-based experiment, we evaluate the effects of these issues on the corporate credibility (expertise and trustworthiness) of four tiers of a typical food supply chain: pesticide producers, farmers, companies from the food industry and retail chains.


Results suggest that both sustainability trade-offs and cross-insurance mechanisms have different impacts across the chain. While pesticide producers (first tier) and retail chains (fourth tier) seem to respond better to a social trade-off, the social cross-insurance mechanism has shown to be particularly beneficial to companies from the food industry (third tier). Farmers (second tier), in turn, seem to be more sensitive to the economic cross-insurance mechanism.


Along with adding to the study of sustainability trade-offs in supply chain contexts, results suggest that the efficiency of the insurance mechanism is not conditional on the alignment among sustainability dimensions (i.e. social responsibility attenuating social irresponsibility). In this sense, empirical evidences support the development of the cross-insurance mechanism as an original concept.



The authors would like to thank guest-editors Dr. Gyöngyi Kovács, Dr. Kuula Markku, Dr. Constantin Blome, and Dr. Stefan Seuring, as well as as the reviewers and editorial team for providing valuable insights during the review process.


Fracarolli Nunes, M., Lee Park, C. and Paiva, E.L. (2020), "Can we have it all? Sustainability trade-offs and cross-insurance mechanisms in supply chains", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 40 No. 9, pp. 1339-1366.



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