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Theories in sustainable supply chain management: a structured literature review

Anne Touboulic (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Helen Walker (Department of Logistics and Operations Management, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate theoretical perspectives in sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) and contributes to understanding the current state of research in the field and its future development.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper conducts a structured literature review and aims at mapping the use of theories in the field. The authors assess the current state of research, looking in more details at popular theories, and propose possible future avenues for the field to develop.

Findings

Theory-building efforts in SSCM remain scarce, with the predominance of a few popular imported macro theories (resource-based view (RBV), stakeholder theory and institutional theory) having implications on the conceptualisation of SSCM and the topics researched to date. More theoretical contributions can potentially emerge from the adoption of original methodologies, the investigation of under-explored aspects of SSCM and the testing of recently developed frameworks.

Research limitations/implications

Drawing on the analysis the authors propose an overarching map of popular theories in SSCM and define potential avenues towards the maturation of the discipline. A number of propositions are offered to guide future research. This study constitutes a first step towards understanding how theories in SSCM are developing and how SSCM has been conceptualised.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper lies in its analytical focus on theories in SSCM, which have not been mapped to date.

Keywords

Citation

Touboulic, A. and Walker, H. (2015), "Theories in sustainable supply chain management: a structured literature review", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 45 No. 1/2, pp. 16-42. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-05-2013-0106

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited