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Digitalization and the greening of supply chains

Joseph Sarkis (Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA) (Humlog Institute, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)
Mahtab Kouhizadeh (Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA)
Qingyun Serena Zhu (College of Business, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama, USA)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 20 October 2020

Issue publication date: 4 February 2021




This study provides a reflective overview on the role of traditional and emergent digitalization and information technologies for leveraging environmental supply chain sustainability – while reflecting on potential trade-offs and conflicts of digitalization and greening.


The authors use relevant literature and literature from Industrial Management and Data Systems (IMDS) research published in this journal over the past 50 years. They also use their knowledge and over 30 years of research experience in the field to provide professional scholarly reflections and perspective.


The authors provide a focused and succinct evaluation for research directions. A pressures, practices and performance framework sets the stage for pertinent research questions and theoretical needs to investigate the nexus of digitalization and green supply chain management. The authors provide two frameworks with exemplary practices and research for traditional and emergent digitalization and information technology. Their reflection concludes with a summary and steps forward.

Social implications

The authors show how research and practice can be used to affect supply chain greening with digitalization and information technology. They observe that care should be taken given that these technologies can paradoxically simultaneously offer solutions to environmental degradation and potentially be a source of environmental degradation across the supply chain.


This work provides a summary and unique perspective that links traditional and emergent digitalization technology to green and environmental sustainability work. The area has not seen a clear summary and path forward and shows how IMDS literature has contributed to the field for decades.



This research was partially funded by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), grant number 227940.


Sarkis, J., Kouhizadeh, M. and Zhu, Q.S. (2021), "Digitalization and the greening of supply chains", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 121 No. 1, pp. 65-85.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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