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Social sustainability in supply chains: a review

Patricio Javier Chiesa (Deusto Business School, Universidad de Deusto, San Sebastian, Spain)
Wojciech Przychodzen (Department of Finance, Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao, Spain)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 29 August 2019

Issue publication date: 20 October 2020



The purpose of this study is to review the development of the socially sustainable supply chain management field.


The 112 most cited papers in the field until 2017 are analysed using a state-of-the-art structured literature review model borrowed from the accounting field.


This study highlights the increasing number of publications across the years, the diversity of journals and the type of authors addressing the topic. It reveals that qualitative studies focused on large companies in the garment, food and electronics sectors and on private regulations capture most of the attention, with Asia, Europe and North America being the most scrutinised locations. Drivers and barriers for socially sustainable supply chain management are summarised, clustered and confronted. This study also evaluates how the sustainability and corporate social responsibility concepts are used in the above field and analyses the existing definitions of social sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

This study incites researchers to broaden their studies to diverse sectors and locations, addressing different levels of supply chains with quantitative techniques and clearer conceptual foundations.

Practical implications

This study incites practitioners to further contribute to this scholars-dominated research field, offering their practical insights and perspectives.


This study offers original insights and critiques of the literature, highlighting its gaps and proposing new research avenues for the future.



Chiesa, P.J. and Przychodzen, W. (2020), "Social sustainability in supply chains: a review", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 16 No. 8, pp. 1125-1148.



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