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Environmental management: the role of supply chain capabilities in the auto sector

Yang Liu (Northampton Business School, University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)
Jagjit Singh Srai (Centre for International Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
Steve Evans (Centre for Industrial Sustainability, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 11 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore the specific role of supply chain capabilities (SCCs) in the implementation of particular green strategies and the extent to which this relationship is contingent upon firm size.


A survey-based approach was used to empirically test the study hypotheses. Data that were collected from 225 senior logistics/supply chain managers across the automotive OEM and supplier base (predominantly from China, North America and Europe) were analyzed using moderated regression analyses.


SCCs contribute to effective green strategy implementation and their magnitude varies significantly with respect to green design, green purchasing and green manufacturing. Firm size has positive moderating effects on supply chain flexibility in both green design and green purchasing, and on supplier appraisal capability in both green purchasing and green manufacturing. However, unexpectedly, firm size negatively moderates not only supply chain management (SCM) skills/knowledge in both green design and green purchasing but also IT/IS support in green manufacturing.

Research limitations/implications

This paper adopted a cross-sectional survey design and was only conducted in the automotive industry which may affect the inferences of causality and generalizability beyond this sector.

Practical implications

Managers should consider whether the green strategies that they want to follow “fit” with their existing resources/capabilities and firm-level conditions, and accordingly develop and deploy appropriate SSCs for successful implementation.


The research contributes to the existing resource-based view literature by studying the capability–strategy link with its specific application to environmental management.



The authors wish to thank the Editor, Dr Beverly Wagner, and the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful, specific and constructive comments for the improvement of this paper.


Liu, Y., Srai, J.S. and Evans, S. (2016), "Environmental management: the role of supply chain capabilities in the auto sector", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 1-19.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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