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Where Do We Go From Here? Progressing Sustainability Implementation Efforts Across Supply Chains


Corresponding author:

Sebastian Brockhaus, Institute of Business Logistics and General Management, Hamburg University of Technology, Schwarzenbergstraße 95, 21073 Hamburg, Germany; E-mail:


The findings from an inductive study conducted in the United States and Europe focused on sustainability implementation efforts across supply chains are reported. In particular, the study focuses on developing a better understanding of: “how do companies involve other members of their supply chain into their sustainability efforts?” Building upon themes that emerged from the data, a typology for the supply chain implementation of sustainability initiatives is proposed. A lack of supply chain integration was identified and companies reported a tendency toward a “mandated” implementation when extending efforts across companies. These efforts are generally initiated by the dominant companies and then forced onto the weaker upstream members. The data suggests that the merits of these initiatives are viewed as being disproportionately awarded to the dominant firm and thus did not receive full buy-in from the other party. A common vision by both sides of this relationship is to develop a more collaborative implementation that can be supported by all the involved parties. In theoretical implications, empirical findings are viewed through the lens of several prominent management theories in order to augment and elaborate current theory. Managerial implications, limitations, and opportunities for further research are detailed.