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Tensions within sustainability management: a socio-psychological framework

Wilhelm Kuntner (Independent researcher, Brunico, Italy)
Wolfgang G. Weber (Institute of Psychology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 15 May 2018

Issue publication date: 1 June 2018




The purpose of this study is to contribute to the theoretical groundwork for socio-psychological investigations into the management of socially sustainable supply chains. It proposes an analytical framework for the study of the psychological conflict potential between the fulfillment of core labor standards and cost efficiency requirements.


Theoretical considerations are illustrated using an explorative qualitative-empirical case study.


An activity-theoretical approach makes it possible to combine the subjective experience of tensions between conflicting requirements on sustainability management and the practical imperatives of the capitalist-market economic system in a coherent socio-psychological analytical framework.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed analytical framework serves as a starting point for theoretical considerations on socio-psychological determinants of the sustainability performance of the management of transnational supply chains.


This paper addresses the novel topic of how supply chain sustainability managers give sense to difficulties concerning the fulfillment of core labor standards while being constrained by cost efficiency requirements. To this end, in a hitherto unique way, concepts from activity theory, social cognitive theory of self-regulation and the theory of communicative action are combined into an analytical framework.



Kuntner, W. and Weber, W.G. (2018), "Tensions within sustainability management: a socio-psychological framework", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 193-206.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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