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Constructing a process model for low-carbon supply chain cooperation practices based on the DEMATEL and the NK model

Chunguang Bai (School of Management Science and Engineering, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China)
Joseph Sarkis (School of Business, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA)
Yijie Dou (Center for Industrial and Business Organization, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




This paper aims to introduce a joint DEMATEL and NK methodology to develop a process model for introducing and implementing relational supply chain practices for low-carbon supply chains. Using this process model as a guide, insights into specific practices and how to implement these relational practices to achieve competitive advantage across organizations are introduced.


Low-carbon cooperation practices framework based on the relational view is developed. A methodology based on DEMATEL and the NK model is used to construct a sequential process model for introducing and implementing these relational practices. Empirical data from three manufacturing organizations in China are utilized to validate the model.


Initial results provide a sequence of relational practices for guiding those organizations and their suppliers for healthy and low-carbon development. Interdependencies between relational practices are analyzed and evaluated from four aspects. Insights into the broader application of the methodology and initial results from both a research and managerial perspective are presented, especially with consideration of the China, an emerging economy, context.

Research limitations/implications

The methodology remains relatively abstract in nature, yet the tool can provide very useful interpretations and information for both researchers and practitioners.

Practical implications

This paper stipulates that in addition to internal operational practices, the relational practices between buyer and supplier may be equally important to achieve a low-carbon outcome, especially in supply chain setting. This paper also shows that not only the relational practice itself but also the implementation sequence of the relational practices can relate to performance. According to the authors’ initial results, organizations in this study should first develop product development cooperation, then exchange carbon knowledge and implement effective governance and last build a trust relationship with its suppliers for low-carbon cooperation.


This is one of the few approaches that directly evaluates and identifies the interdependencies among relational practices and to construct a process model for introducing and implementing low-carbon supply chain cooperation. It is also the first time that the NK model has been integrated with DEMATEL. Focusing on Chinese supply chain carbon emissions concerns is also a unique perspective.



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Project (71472031, 71302057); Liaoning Province Social Science Planning Fund of China (L14DGL046).


Bai, C., Sarkis, J. and Dou, Y. (2017), "Constructing a process model for low-carbon supply chain cooperation practices based on the DEMATEL and the NK model", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 237-257.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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