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Sustainability in food service supply chains: future expectations from European industry experts toward the environmental perspective

Inga-Lena Darkow (Department of Business Studies and Economics, University Bremen, Bremen, Germany)
Bernadette Foerster (EBS Business School, EBS University of Economics and Law, Wiesbaden, Germany)
Heiko A. von der Gracht (EBS Business School, EBS University of Economics and Law, Wiesbaden, Germany)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the management of food supply chains in complex and volatile business environments, where the sustainability requirements of customers and legislation are increasing. This challenging situation gives rise to the question as to how a logistics company can achieve and sustain competitive advantage through environmentally-oriented sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

This empirical study gathers insights on emerging practices in European food service supply chains from two parallel Delphi surveys conducted with 145 industry experts from 27 countries. The long-term industry expectations of a leading provider in food service logistics are compared with an industry-wide external panel. The questions were designed to understand how managers perceive the emerging domain of sustainability in supply chains.

Findings

Environmentally oriented sustainability will remain a key driver of success in the field. However, after applying the dominant logic concept for analyzing results, it becomes apparent that managers have to continuously challenge internal existing expectations to translate an emerging domain into strategy. We show how the senior management team under investigation was challenged in its dominant logic and how it tried to overcome this situation during strategy development.

Originality/value

The study shows how managers perceive and cope with the emerging domain of environmentally oriented sustainability, how they translate it into strategy, and utilize resources for creating customer value. The research supports managers in adapting to new competitive environments. Furthermore, the study contributes by visualizing the dominant logic of a firm and the approach of top management for adjustment.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all the participants of the Delphi survey for their valuable comments and suggestions. In particular, the authors are highly appreciative of the sponsorship as well as commitment and trust they received from their reference company, a recognized Lead Logistics Provider. Finally, the authors appreciation goes to Janice Magel for their important support and assistance, particularly in the finalization of the manuscript.

Citation

Darkow, I.-L., Foerster, B. and von der Gracht, H.A. (2015), "Sustainability in food service supply chains: future expectations from European industry experts toward the environmental perspective", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 163-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/SCM-03-2014-0087

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited