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Creating a sustainable supply chain: the strategic foundation

Stuart Orr (Department of Management, Deakin University, Melbourne Burwood Campus, Burwood, Australia)
Akshay Jadhav (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 6 November 2018

Issue publication date: 20 November 2018




This paper aims to introduce a supply chain strategy for supply chain sustainability performance and explain why it is different to normal business/operations strategy.


A survey of supply chain managers and detailed case studies of three successful supply chain sustainability organisations identified four components of a supply chain sustainability strategy, the mechanisms behind them and how they interacted.


Sustainability leadership, supply chain member involvement in organisational sustainability initiatives, supply chain member involvement in supply chain sustainability strategy planning and technical competency were identified as the four components of a sustainable supply chain strategy. Sustainability leadership legitimises the objectives and involvement of the staff in supply chain-oriented sustainability initiatives and planning. Technical competency provides the capability and language necessary for the development of a supply chain sustainability strategy. This is different to business/operations strategy, however, parallels to other forms of strategy constructs support its ability to achieve performance improvement.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on data from developed countries; the findings may be different for emerging economies. Potential hypotheses for future research are suggested.

Practical implications

The supply chain sustainability strategy will enable organisations to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. Its application is described in the paper.


The paper develops a strategy framework different to the approach taken in business/operational strategy. It indicates how the sustainability performance of supply chains external to the organisation is increased through their interconnectedness with the organisation.



Orr, S. and Jadhav, A. (2018), "Creating a sustainable supply chain: the strategic foundation", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 39 No. 6, pp. 29-35.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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