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Sustainable supply network management: A systematic literature review from a knowledge perspective

Leonardo Marques (Department of Operations, Technology and Logistics, COPPEAD Graduate School of Business, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 13 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to scrutinise how the sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) literature has discussed knowledge dynamics across the extended supply network, particularly in the contemporary context of fragmented, globally dispersed supply networks.


A systematic approach to reviewing the literature is applied, covering 20 years, starting with 267 references, and narrowing down to 88 articles specifically addressing knowledge diffusion processes across the extended supply network.


This study shows that vertical ties limited to direct suppliers or third-party monitoring of global suppliers are both insufficient. Lack of co-opetition is an impediment to knowledge diffusion. And the debate of whether or not global dispersion is an impediment to knowledge diffusion seems inconclusive. More importantly, there is a lack of network-level studies mapping the diversity of actors in supply networks.

Research limitations/implications

First, future SSCM research should shift from an operational focus to strategic knowledge diffusion. Second, the scope of SSCM should expand from linear buyer–supplier relationships to multi-tier and multilateral studies. Special focus should be placed on the literature on social network to support processes that look at the drivers of effective large-scale, global diffusion of sustainability.


This review contends that it is paramount to set a new research direction captured in a new definition of “sustainable supply network management”. Future research should overcome the barriers of data collection at the network level in order to contribute to the field’s current challenges, which clearly lies in globally dispersed and complex supply network, not dyads or linear chains.



Marques, L. (2019), "Sustainable supply network management: A systematic literature review from a knowledge perspective", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 68 No. 6, pp. 1164-1190.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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