• environmental sustainability;
  • supply chain management;
  • firm performance;
  • meta-analysis


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

Studies linking environmental sustainability to firm performance have been increasing as more companies are contemplating the implementation of sustainable practices internally and in coordination with other firms along their supply chains. However, findings from these studies have found positive and negative associations, leaving practitioners perplexed as to what actions would be beneficial to pursue. With hypotheses grounded in the natural resource–based view of the firm, the current study examines over 20 years of research on environmental supply chain practices using a meta-analysis to determine whether the overall effect of these specific practices on firm performance is, in fact, positive. The results show that the link between environmental supply chain practices and market-based, operational-based and accounting-based forms of firm performance is positive and significant, providing support for the business case that sustainable supply chain management results in increased firm performance. Different operationalizations of supply chain practices — upstream, design, production and downstream — along with industry, sample region, firm size and time are examined as moderators of this relationship with nuanced results that help to extend the discipline's understanding of the relationship between environmentally sustainable supply chain management and firm performance.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

Sustainability is playing an increasingly significant role in planning and management within organizations and across supply chains (Kleindorfer, Singhal & Van Wassenhove, 2005; Linton, Klassen & Jayaraman, 2007; Srivastava, 2007). In its broadest conceptualization, sustainability has been defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN Documents, 1987).1 In management research, it has been incorporated within the context of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and commonly assessed through a range of social, cultural, legal, political, economic and natural environmental dimensions (Wood, 2010).

Research and practitioner interest in sustainability emerged in part due to concern for the potential impact that regulatory compliance and stakeholder pressure may have on planning and management decisions and resulting corporate financial performance (CFP) (Vachon & Klassen, 2009; Porter & van der Linde, 1995). Responses to such pressures have been posited as an impediment to performance on the one hand, while alternative propositions suggest that the adaptation may spur innovation, enhance operations and offer sources of competitive opportunity (Porter & van der Linde, 1995). In an effort to bring clarity to the CSR–CFP relationship, a plethora of studies have been conducted over the past four decades (Wood, 2010). Mixed positive, negative and nonsignificant outcomes, however, have only added to a debate concerned with theoretical support for the sustainability–performance relationship and the value of continued study (Griffin & Mahon, 1997; Orlitzky, Schmidt & Reynes, 2003; Wood, 2010; Wood & Jones, 1995).

Efforts to reconcile prior results have included narrative reviews as well as effect-based analyses as a means to aggregate and interpret the relationship between CSR and CFP (Frooman, 1997; Orlitzky, 2001; Orlitzky & Benjamin, 2001; Orlitzky et al., 2003). Meta-analysis has been used to consolidate factors and assess a general CSR to CFP link. The same studies have attempted to gain further insights into the relationship by refining their analyses based on different types of corporate social performance, by considering how the constructs are operationalized and by distinguishing among research methods and the temporal sequence of the CSR–CFP relationship (Frooman, 1997; Margolis, Elfenbein & Walsh, 2009; Orlitzky et al., 2003). While the outcomes of these meta-studies have generally found a positive association between CSR and CFP, individual studies were also criticized as offering few theoretical explanations to support the proposed relationship (Wood 2010). Wood argued that the inconsistent results may be attributed to stakeholder mismatching, citing a lack of evidence in studies connecting those (stakeholders) who establish expectations relevant to the measure of CSR, those who experience the effects of corporate behaviors and those who are evaluating performance. In their review of research in CSR, Wood and Jones (1995) note CSR “…displays a serious mismatch of variables which are mixed and correlated almost indiscriminately with a set of stakeholder-related performance variables that are not theoretically linked” (p. 231).

While the landscape of research addressing the relationship between sustainability and firm performance has addressed multiple CSR dimensions, interest in the environmental dimension of sustainability has become more prominent in operations and supply chain management research as firms understand the impacts supply chains may have on the natural environment as well as society (Carter & Rogers, 2008; Srivastava, 2007; Vachon & Klassen, 2008; Wu & Pagell, 2011). A number of recent articles document a growing body of research adopting a broader systems approach, thus connecting stakeholders, toward environmental supply chain management.

Linton et al. (2007) reconcile a 15-year increase in the number of business research articles involving sustainability along with emerging regional and global environmental policy initiatives to suggest that the study of sustainable supply chain management is both timely and significant. Their description of the interaction between environmental sustainability and supply chain management emphasizes an extension beyond internal operations and core supply chain practices, to include issues related to product design, manufacturing by products, product end of life and other factors that may relate to the natural environment.

Srivastava (2007) recently reviewed green supply chain management (GSCM) research which he defined as “…research integrating environmental thinking in supply chain management, including product design, material sourcing and selection, manufacturing processes, delivery of the final product to the consumers as well as end of life management of the product after its useful life” (p. 54–55). He classified studies into those concerned with the importance of GSCM, those focused on green design and those involving green operations. Gold, Seuring and Beske (2010) based categories for their content analysis of case research in sustainable supply chain management on a model of green supply management capabilities. Their purpose was to “…explore the role of environmentally sustainable supply chain management as a catalyst of generating valuable inter-organizational resources and thus possible sustained inter-firm competitive advantage through collaboration on environmental and social issues,” (p. 230).

Kleindorfer et al. (2005) reviewed studies of environmental sustainability in operations management published in the first 50 issues of Production and Operations Management (POM). The framework that informed their review illustrates an extended supply chain adopted from Corbett and Kleindorfer (2001) and included in an article introducing the first special issue of POM concerned with Environmental and Operations Management.

Coinciding with the increase in research examining the sustainability–performance link, researchers have conducted meta-analyses in efforts to explain any differences among the extant studies (Margolis et al., 2009; Orlitzky et al., 2003); however, at this point, these analyses have primarily examined CSR in all business practices and have interpreted the various measures of environmental sustainability as part of a single CSR construct. Orlitzky et al. (2003) separated corporate environmental performance measures from those addressing social performance. Their results indicate a small, positive relationship between environmental performance and CFP. However, both the independent and dependent variables in their study were examined in the broadest manner. For example, any business practices involving environmental activities were grouped as part of the independent variable, and dependent performance measures blended accounting, market-based and perceptual indicators.

The lack of focus on specific business practices, inadequate theoretical grounding and limited examination of environmental sustainability in the extant literature limits the contribution the results from these studies can make, particularly to the discipline of supply chain management. The recent growth in research involving environmental supply chain practices and their impact on performance creates an opportunity to evaluate this impact incorporating a stronger theoretical grounding and a more focused operationalization of variables.

We draw on research published in a myriad of scholarly journals to ask what effect environmental supply chain practices have on firm performance and what might contribute to positive effects in some cases and negative/no effects in others? To accomplish this, we adopt resource-based theories as the foundation for our hypotheses and test them through an effect-based meta-analysis (i.e., calculating the mean effect based on individual study effect sizes) of more than 20 years of published research findings linking environmental supply chain practices to firm performance. Answering our research questions addresses gaps we have identified and is expected to make several contributions.

The immediate study and many of the studies included in this meta-analysis are grounded in theory that explicates mechanisms that support a connection between environmental supply chain practices and specific dimensions of firm performance. It does so in a manner Wood and Jones (1995) suggest is necessary to “make sense of this body of research” (p. 229). Consistent with their suggestions, factors included in the analysis consider those who establish expectations relevant to measures of environmental supply chain practices, those who experience the effects of the practice-related behaviors and those who evaluate organizational performance.

Additionally, with its focus on environmentally sustainable supply chain management, this study steps beyond existing narrative reviews to offer a more rigorous empirical assessment across studies. Whereas narrative reviews to date have helped to define the domain and coalesce the various environmental supply chain practices, this study is the first to quantitatively synthesize research concerned with the environmental supply chain practices and performance link. Geyskens et al. (2006) note that such an approach can “result in significant gains in inferential power over narrative reviews and vote counting” (p. 520).

The current study is therefore expected to not only cohesively synthesize the research that has been done to date, but also advance theory and practice related to environmentally sustainable supply chain management practices. In doing so, we wish to build a better understanding of the variables, measures, contexts or other factors that might be influencing impacts of environmental practices specific to the supply chain and their performance.

Theoretical Background and Research Framework

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

Various environmental constructs have been employed to examine relationships between environmental sustainability and firm performance. Our focus was specifically on environmental supply chain practices, which we define here as activities or actions taken to reduce or eliminate the environmental impact of supply chain management–related functions or processes. Supply chain management is defined as “the systemic, strategic coordination of the traditional business functions and the tactics across these business functions within a particular company and across businesses within the supply chain, for the purposes of improving the long term performance of the individual companies and the supply chain as a whole” (Mentzer et al., 2001, p. 18). Thus, environmental supply chain practices can include any environmental effort targeted toward creation, development, production and/or delivery of a product to the end user. Firm performance, which is generally taken to mean the successful execution or accomplishment of work, has also been operationalized in various ways. For this research, we draw upon three categories or dimensions of firm performance that are most frequently used in business as well as supply chain research — market-based, operational-based and accounting-based (Gunasekaran & Kobu, 2007; Hult, Ketchun, Adams & Mena, 2008a; Hult et al., 2008b; Vachon & Klassen, 2006). Market-based performance centers on financial indicators reflecting market goals with respect to meeting customer needs and includes market share, competitive advantage, customer loyalty, brand equity, etc. Operational-based performance focuses on aspects related to operational efficiency, such as costs, quality, flexibility and speed. Accounting-based performance refers to overall profitability as indicated by return ratios, earnings and profit. These three dimensions capture the primary criteria from popular measurement standards such as the balanced scorecard (customers, internal processes and financial) as well as address the primary supply chain stakeholders (shareholders — financial, suppliers — operational, employees — operational, competitors — market and customers — market). Thus, our focal relationships are between environmental supply chain practices and the three categories of firm performance as depicted in the diagram in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Research Framework

Download figure to PowerPoint

In addition to the diversity of environmental variables and performance operationalizations, a range of models and theories — such as customer satisfaction, institutional theory, product development and resource-based theories — have been utilized in an effort to explain hypothesized relationships with performance. Among these efforts, the resource-based view of the firm (RBV) was the most commonly used. However, due to application limitations of the RBV as pointed out recently in the supply chain literature (Hunt & Davis, 2008; Priem & Swink, 2012), we also draw upon the similar yet different resource–advantage (R–A) theory. These theories both define resources as tangible and intangible entities that enable an organization to efficiently and/or effectively produce a market offering that has value for some customers (Hunt & Davis, 2008). Because the definition and purpose of supply chain management is to efficiently and effectively produce a valuable market offering, we believe these theories provide a strong basis for the link between environmental supply chain practices and performance.

The RBV has been used as a foundation in strategic management to explain the achievement of competitive advantage for nearly three decades (Barney, 1991; Wernerfelt, 1984). This theory posits that the combination of different resources and how they are managed impacts firm capabilities and can result in competitive advantage if the resources are valuable and inimitable, and have no equivalent substitute. Barney argues that supply chain management has the resource attributes that could “lead it to be a source of at least a temporary advantage, if not a sustained competitive advantage” (Barney, 2012, p. 3). This is possible, he contends, because SCM is a capability that can be used to generate more accurate expectations about future value of resources. Several researchers have grounded their studies linking environmental practices and performance in the RBV (Carter, 2004; Pullman, Maloni & Dillard, 2010; Russo & Fouts, 1997). The literature also supports the RBV as the crux for an association between environmental supply chain practices and performance (Peng & Lin, 2008; Sroufe, 2003; Wu, Melnyk & Calantone, 2008) with some specifically finding a positive association with cost advantage (Christmann, 2000; Lopez-Gamero, Molina-Azorin & Claver-Cortes, 2010) or competitive advantage (Chen, Lai & Wen, 2006; Chiou, Chan, Lettice & Chung, 2011) as the performance outcome.

In 1995, Hart argued that the RBV ignored challenges and constraints imposed by the natural environment, which should be important to consider in developing new resources and capabilities in order to deal with the acceleration of the scale and scope of human activity. He reasoned that past economic and organizational practices could not be continued as they would not continue to provide the same outcomes. Thus, he offered the natural resource–based view of the firm (NRBV) that posits future competitive advantage being rooted in “capabilities that facilitate environmentally sustainable economic activity” (p. 991). The NRBV has recently received support in research linking environmental sustainability practices related to supply chain activities to improved economic, operational and market performance (Vachon & Klassen, 2006, 2008). These authors note that supply chain processes have a direct impact on the natural environment, and practices to manage and reduce this impact can develop capabilities to improve performance.

The NRBV is built upon three interconnected strategies, two of which are focused on developed markets — pollution prevention and product stewardship.2 Pollution prevention is concerned with reducing pollution, or the inefficient use of material and human resources, in the manufacturing process. Like total quality management and lean production, pollution prevention means reducing waste which results in improved operational performance through better utilization of inputs, reduced cycle times and lower costs. Product stewardship entails integrating stakeholder perspectives into the product. It includes activities at every step in the value chain to focus on the entire lifecycle of a product from design to disposal. Implementing this strategy can enable a firm to develop a stronger reputation and competitive differentiation, both of which are market-based performance. Hart additionally argues that these two strategies that bring improvements in operational and market performance ultimately result in enhanced cash flow and profitability — or accounting-based performance — for the firm.

The RBV is considered to be a resource-side strategy that looks more upstream in the supply chain and inside the firm to build explanations of value capture by firms (Priem & Swink, 2012). It is missing the demand-side strategy that looks downstream toward customers to explain decisions that increase value creation. Similar to the RBV, R–A theory also proposes that variation in firm performance is attributed to differences in resources; however, R–A theory is more dynamic and assumes heterogeneous product markets (Hunt, 2000). It addresses heterogeneous demand theory, providing a link between the demand and supply sides of the supply chain. The link between environmental supply chain practices and performance has been supported with R–A theory (Richey, Genchev & Daugherty, 2005). Priem and Swink (2012) claim that together these research streams present a stronger view of SCM, because collectively they encompass both the supply and demand side and thus both value capture and value creation.

Because these resource theories are similar in their support of a connection between capabilities and competitive advantage and together address the upstream and downstream aspects of the supply chain, they serve as an appropriate lens for the link between supply chain management and performance. It is reasonable to expect that specific supply chain practices, such as environmentally related practices, also represent capabilities that contribute to the variation in performance across firms. Thus, the NRBV and R–A jointly support the expected positive association between environmental supply chain practices and the three dimensions of firm performance. We offer the following hypotheses to address our first research question:

H1: Environmental supply chain practices are positively associated with market-based firm performance.

H2: Environmental supply chain practices are positively associated with operational-based firm performance.

H3: Environmental supply chain practices are positively associated with accounting-based firm performance.

Meta-analysis typically looks for moderating variables that may affect the primary relationships studied.3 The most common moderator in these types of studies is the operationalization of the independent and/or dependent variable as this can impact the direction and magnitude of the association between variables. Therefore, we examine the effect of different operationalizations of environmental supply chain practices. Studies linking environmental sustainability and firm performance have examined firm size and industry as control variables given that larger firms or firms in specific industries typically have more resources to implement different practices (Gonzalez-Benito & Gonzalez-Benito, 2005; Pullman et al., 2010; Rahman, Laosirihongthong & Sohal, 2010). Thus, we examine firm size and industry as well as geographic region and economic conditions. This analysis is described further in the method and results sections.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

Based on the purpose of our study, an effect-size meta-analysis, the quantitative synthesis of research findings across a large number of studies (Geyskens, Krishnam, Steenkamp & Cunha, 2009) is the best approach to test our hypotheses. This approach not only combines the effects of multiple independent studies, which can achieve stronger conclusions than those presented in a single study (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990), but meta-analysis also sheds light on empirical generalizability of previous findings and can determine whether different moderators affect the associations found (Orlitzky & Benjamin, 2001). We have acknowledged that other reviews of the literature exist; however, these are primarily narrative or vote-counting reviews which do not correct for individual study artifacts and therefore often result in false conclusions (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990). As mentioned previously, a few meta-analyses that consider CSR and firm performance exist, but these are limited in their scope, particularly with respect to environmental supply chain practices. The results of this analysis should determine an overall effect between environmental supply chain practices and firm performance and find variables, measures, contexts or other factors that explain differences in the effect.

Data Collection

To obtain the empirical studies, ABI/Inform Global, which provides access to thousands of business journals, was searched using sustainability, performance and other related terms in any part of the article (e.g., social responsibility, corporate responsibility, environmental management, green, sustainable practices, lean, reverse logistics, closed-loop supply chain, occupational health, occupational safety, efficiency, effectiveness). We also obtained references from prior meta-analyses and reviews if they were not found in the original database search. Our search, completed in June 2011, encompassed nearly 4,500 articles and included all published material back to 1990 as fewer empirical studies had been conducted prior to this time as evidenced by the prior meta-analyses (Frooman, 1997; Orlitzky, 2001; Orlitzky & Benjamin, 2001; Orlitzky et al., 2003). Thus, we felt this would be a comprehensive start to our sample.

The studies to be included in our sample were those that hypothesized an environmental supply chain practice/performance association and tested this empirically. Those that were not empirical or those that used qualitative methods (e.g., case studies, observations, depth interviews) or simple opinion surveys were immediately eliminated from our sample as these did not report empirical effect sizes for the association and were thus not appropriate. The 215 resulting studies were then examined independently by both authors for the type of performance outcome hypothesized. We were primarily interested in financial-related performance (e.g., increased revenue or profit, reduced costs, increased returns, competitive advantage) as the outcome or dependent variable, as this is most pertinent to companies; therefore, we removed any that hypothesized financial metrics as the independent variable, leaving 180 studies. Finally, we separated studies that examined environmental sustainability practices as the independent variable from those studying social sustainability. Those studies that focused on environmental-related or social-related performance as the dependent variable and those investigating social sustainability as the independent variable were set aside for future analysis, leaving 89 studies.

We next extracted those studies specifically examining environmental supply chain practices per our definition as independent variables for our analysis. See Appendix A for a diagram of how the studies were narrowed down. The resulting sample of 31 studies with 77 independent effect sizes (a total sample size of 15,160) that qualified for our analysis were each investigated independently by both authors for pertinent information to ensure agreement. Figure 2 shows the number of qualified studies by year; this demonstrates an overall increasing trend over the years confirming the review by Linton et al. (2007). We recorded the constructs examined and their definition, construct operationalization/measurement, the effect size of the environmental sustainability–firm performance associations and its significance level, variable reliability and validity information, the sample size, the context of the study, any pertinent control variables and any issues with quality of the study (Rosenthal, 1984). The effect size was taken to be the correlation where provided, and if not, correlations were reproduced from the sum of the product of all path weights from each possible tracing between the variables (Kenny, 1979, p. 30). In the case where neither of these was available, the effect was calculated from other test statistics such as t, F or χ2 (Wolf, 1986). We categorized the firm performance–dependent variable based on whether a specific outcome was market-based (i.e., related to performance with respect to customers), operational-based (i.e., related to production or operations efficiency) or accounting-based (i.e., bottom-line profitability-related results). We then categorized the independent variables based on whether the supply chain practice was upstream supplier facing (i.e., purchasing or supplier-related practices), downstream customer facing (i.e., logistics or customer-related practices), design (i.e., practices pertaining to product or process design) or production (i.e., related to manufacturing operations practices) to examine these operationalizations as potential moderators. The final study data used for the meta-analysis are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Summary of Study Data
Authors (Year)JournalIndependent VariableDependent VariableEffect size n
Carter, Kale and Grimm (2000)Transportation Research Part EUpstream supplier facingAccounting0.1438437
Christmann (2000)Academy of Management JournalProductionOperational0.100088
Gilley, Worrel and El-Jelly (2000)Journal of ManagementProductionMarket0.160139
Gilley et al. (2000)Journal of ManagementDesignMarket0.176832
Kassinis and Soteriou (2003)Production and Operations ManagementProductionAccounting0.1197104
Kassinis and Soteriou (2003)Production and Operations ManagementProductionMarket0.3950104
Sroufe (2003)Production and Operations ManagementProductionOperational0.30561,118
Sroufe (2003)Production and Operations ManagementDesignOperational0.47331,118
Sroufe (2003)Production and Operations ManagementDownstream customer facingOperational0.45501,118
Zhu and Sarkis (2004)Journal of Operations ManagementUpstream/DownstreamAccounting0.3460186
Zhu and Sarkis (2004)Journal of Operations ManagementDownstream customer facingAccounting0.1380186
Zhu and Sarkis (2004)Journal of Operations ManagementDesignAccounting0.2705186
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaDownstream customer facingOperational0.1300185
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaDesignOperational0.0755185
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaProductionOperational−0.0365185
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaDownstream customer facingMarket0.0420185
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaDesignMarket0.1530185
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaProductionMarket−0.0300185
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaDownstream customer facingAccounting−0.0040180
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaDesignAccounting−0.0090180
Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito (2005)OmegaProductionAccounting−0.0010180
Rao and Holt (2005)International Journal of Operations & Production ManagementUpstream supplier facingAccounting0.764252
Rao and Holt (2005)International Journal of Operations & Production ManagementDownstream customer facingOperational0.878552
Richey et al. (2005)International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics ManagementDownstream customer facingOperational0.2173117
Chen et al. (2006)Journal of Business EthicsDesignMarket0.1480203
Chen et al. (2006)Journal of Business EthicsProductionMarket0.3190203
Vachon and Klassen (2006)Journal of Cleaner ProductionUpstream supplier facingOperational0.237584
Vachon and Klassen (2006)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDownstream customer facingOperational0.205084
Chung and Tsai (2007)International Journal of ManagementDesignOperational0.2037107
Chung and Tsai (2007)International Journal of ManagementProductionOperational0.1710107
Chung and Tsai (2007)International Journal of ManagementDownstream customer facingOperational0.1833107
Zhu, Sarkis and Lai (2007)Journal of Cleaner ProductionUpstream supplier facingAccounting0.389589
Zhu et al. (2007)Journal of Cleaner ProductionUpstream supplier facingOperational0.406089
Zhu et al. (2007)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDesignAccounting0.443889
Zhu et al. (2007)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDesignOperational0.514089
Zhu et al. (2007)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDownstream customer facingAccounting0.338289
Zhu et al. (2007)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDownstream customer facingOperational0.492889
Chen (2008)Journal of Business EthicsDesignMarket0.8160136
Chen (2008)Journal of Business EthicsProductionMarket0.8150136
Jayaram et al. (2008)International Journal of Production ResearchDesignAccounting0.349057
Jayaram et al. (2008)International Journal of Production ResearchProductionAccounting0.002357
Peng and Lin (2008)Journal of Business EthicsProductionAccounting0.4000101
Peng and Lin (2008)Journal of Business EthicsDesignAccounting0.5000101
Peng and Lin (2008)Journal of Business EthicsDownstream customer facingAccounting0.4600101
Peng and Lin (2008)Journal of Business EthicsProductionMarket0.3600101
Peng and Lin (2008)Journal of Business EthicsDesignMarket0.4500101
Peng and Lin (2008)Journal of Business EthicsDownstream customer facingMarket0.4200101
Skinner, Bryant and Richey (2008)International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics ManagementDownstream customer facingOperational0.2856118
Vachon and Klassen (2008)International Journal of Production EconomicsUpstream supplier facingOperational0.305076
Vachon and Klassen (2008)International Journal of Production EconomicsDownstream customer facingOperational0.162576
Wu et al. (2008)IEEE Transactions on Engineering ManagementProductionOperational0.10001,165
Wu et al. (2008)IEEE Transactions on Engineering ManagementUpstream supplier facingOperational0.26001,165
Fraj-Andres et al. (2009)Journal of Business EthicsDownstream customer facingOperational0.2692361
Fraj-Andres et al. (2009)Journal of Business EthicsDownstream customer facingMarket0.2533361
Pullman, Maloni and Carter (2009)Journal of Supply Chain ManagementProductionAccounting0.1517117
Pullman et al. (2009)Journal of Supply Chain ManagementDownstream customer facingAccounting0.0599117
Pullman et al. (2009)Journal of Supply Chain ManagementProductionOperational0.3711117
Pullman et al. (2009)Journal of Supply Chain ManagementDownstream customer facingOperational0.0770117
Lopez-Gamero et al. (2010)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDesignAccounting0.7085208
Lopez-Gamero et al. (2010)Journal of Cleaner ProductionDesignMarket0.7540208
Olorunniwo and Li (2010)Supply Chain Management: An International JournalDownstream customer facingOperational0.613665
Pullman et al. (2010)Journal of Wine ResearchProductionMarket−0.088849
Pullman et al. (2010)Journal of Wine ResearchDownstream customer facingMarket0.099549
Pullman et al. (2010)Journal of Wine ResearchUpstream supplier facingMarket0.021049
Pullman et al. (2010)Journal of Wine ResearchUpstream supplier facingAccounting0.077549
Pullman et al. (2010)Journal of Wine ResearchUpstream supplier facingOperational0.023049
Rahman et al. (2010)Journal of Manufacturing Technology ManagementProductionOperational0.275035
Yang, Lin, Chan and Sheu (2010)International Journal of Production EconomicsProductionOperational0.3360107
Zeng, Meng, Yin, Tam and Sun (2010)Journal of Cleaner ProductionProductionAccounting0.6071125
Zeng et al. (2010)Journal of Cleaner ProductionProductionMarket0.6232125
Chiou et al. (2011)Transportation Research, Part EUpstream supplier facingOperational0.9900124
Chiou et al. (2011)Transportation Research, Part EDesignOperational0.5900124
Chiou et al. (2011)Transportation Research, Part EProductionOperational0.6824124
Large and Thomson (2011)Journal of Purchasing & Supply ManagementUpstream supplier facingOperational0.2580109
Paulraj (2011)Journal of Supply Chain ManagementUpstream supplier facingAccounting0.3867145
Yang et al. (2011)International Journal of Production EconomicsProductionAccounting0.1545309
Yang et al. (2011)International Journal of Production EconomicsProductionMarket0.1660309

Figure 2. Qualified Studies by Year

  • Note that the number of studies in 2011 is only through May of that year. It is estimated that the total number of studies that year may be twice as high as shown.

Download figure to PowerPoint

Data Analysis

Because the studies we collected measure a common effect — that between environmental sustainability and performance — we examine a fixed-effects model (Schulze, 2004). We first tested the main effects followed by the existence of moderators and then moderator effects following the methods recommended in Aguinis, Sturman and Pierce (2008), Geyskens et al. (2009) and Hunter and Schmidt (1990). Some of the variables were measured using objective data as proxies (e.g., financial data from COMPUSTAT) or used a single-item measure; however if measured through multiple item perceptual data (e.g., a Likert-type scale), we eliminated the effects of measurement error using variable reliabilities if reported (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990, p. 119). Whenever reliabilities were not reported or ranges were offered, the most conservative (i.e., lowest) value was used (commonly 0.70, which is more conservative than substituting the mean reliability as this would be >0.70). Sampling error is only a problem if the average individual sample size is extremely small (Geyskens et al., 2009; Hunter & Schmidt, 1990). This was not considered an issue in the current study due to the large compiled sample size. We calculated the mean corrected effect size (rm) weighted by an attenuation factor that accounted for the individual samples sizes (n) and measurement errors (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990, p. 148–150). The existence of moderators was examined through credibility intervals and the Q statistic (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990, p. 168; Sagie & Koslowsky, 1993, p. 631). A higher Q statistic and credibility intervals that are large or include zero indicate the potential presence of moderators.

Our sample contained nineteen studies that shared one or more authors with another study; thus, we examined these for duplication following the detection heuristic provided by Wood (2008). Eight were completely different studies, three had completely different samples, and six examined different constructs. Two sets of studies appeared to use similar data and constructs as another by the same author; therefore, composite variables were created for these effects (Geyskens et al., 2009). We also aggregated any similar categorical effects (e.g., design [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] operational-based performance) within single studies to ensure that independent effects were used in the analysis (Wolf, 1986). This is the most conservative approach because violation of independence does not have a systematic effect on the mean effect (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990, p. 453).

In order to provide confidence that publication bias was not a concern, we first conducted a file drawer analysis estimating the number of unlocated studies that would affect the overall significance of our findings (Hunter & Schmidt, 1990, p. 511). In other words, because we could not be sure we located all articles empirically examining the influence of environmental supply chain practices on firm performance, we needed to test that any not found would not affect our results. The results from this analysis show that in most cases, large numbers of studies (ranging from 3 to 15 times the number of studies found) would be needed to alter the significance of our results giving us some confidence that it is unlikely our search overlooked the number of studies needed to impact our results. Due to the lack of a standard acceptable failsafe value, some researchers recommend the trim and fill method to examine the potential for publication bias (Aguinis, Pierce, Bosco, Dalton & Dalton, 2011; Geyskens et al., 2009). However, this method assumes that sampling error is the sole source of variation and that moderators are not present (McDaniel, Rothstein & Whetzel, 2006). We expect moderators to be present (and our results support this); therefore, it was not appropriate to use this method. The possibility of publication bias is acknowledged further in the limitations section.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

All analysis results are summarized in Table 2. We first tested the effects of the full data set — 77 total effects, of which 46 had a significant positive connection between environmental supply chain practices and performance with the rest being negative or nonsignificant associations. The mean effect (0.294) was significant; overall environmental supply chain practices are associated with positive firm performance. The mean effects for the three dependent variable categories (0.317, 0.301 and 0.256) were also significant, supporting H1–H3, respectively. It is interesting to note that the effects on market-based and operational-based performance were larger than that on accounting-based performance (i.e., bottom-line profitability). The credibility intervals surrounding all three included zero, thus pointing to moderators affecting the variance. It is possible that moderators are influencing a smaller effect on accounting-based performance, or perhaps market-based performance and operational-based performance are direct outcomes, while profitability is a more indirect outcome. Some research provides evidence that stronger economic results can be obtained through the prior improvement of operational and commercial performance (Fraj-Andres, Martinez-Salinas & Matute-Vallejo, 2009; Menon & Menon, 1997). As described previously, Hart contends through the NRBV that pollution prevention results in improved operational-based performance and product stewardship results in improved market-based performance, which are then expected to provide improved firm performance (Hart, 1995).

Table 2. Summary of Meta-Analysis Results
Hypotheses and ModeratorsTotal EffectsSample SizeUncorrected Mean EffectCorrected Mean EffectCredibility IntervalQ StatisticFailsafe Number
  1. a

    Results not calculated due to limited data.

  2. b

    Result was not significant.

  3. c

    One study accounted for 85% of the mean effect weighting. When removed, the corrected mean effect (0.033) was not significant.

Overall ESCP [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] performance7715,160 0.305 0.294−0.026 to 0.320 253.30 503.26
H1: ESCP [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] market-based performance202,8610.3030.317−0.059 to 0.37661.6667.51
Operationalization — upstream practicesb149     
Operationalization —downstream practices46960.2040.205−0.035 to 0.2418.104.02
Operationalization —design practices68650.4160.429−0.036 to 0.46591.0437.71
Operationalization —production practices91,2510.3020.340−0.032 to 0.37168.8935.43
H2: ESCP [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] operational-based performance338,8540.3220.301−0.015 to 0.317227.78194.66
Operationalization — upstream practices71,6960.3540.3250.002 to 0.32391.9829.34
Operationalization —downstream practices122,4890.3310.3440.151 to 0.19350.6832.43
Operationalization —design practices51,6230.3710.4160.040 to 0.375103.0327.10
Operationalization —production practices93,0460.2560.202−0.096 to 0.29894.6040.39
H3: ESCP [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] accounting-based performance243,4450.2830.256−0.019 to 0.27489.5172.19
Operationalization — upstream practices69580.3510.2720.024 to 0.24837.1923.34
Operationalization — downstream practices56730.1980.171a−0.062 to 0.23322.40−2.99
Operationalization — design practices68210.3770.359−0.074 to 0.43391.7433.05
Operationalization — production practices79930.2050.203−0.085 to 0.28849.491.02
Region — Asia113,5650.4620.4510.017 to 0.435143.03170.24
Region — Europe53,1050.1920.195−0.481 to 0.676303.770.66
Region — North America147,8720.2050.266−0.300 to 0.566461.7621.17
Industry — single163,4180.2680.320−0.095 to 0.41598.6877.67
Industry — auto59480.3680.3860.144 to 0.24217.149.92
Industry — various1511,7420.3370.286−0.180 to 0.467479.45154.98
Firm size62,0360.2830.217c0.005 to 0.21227.6318.50
Time — 2003–20081611,0120.3000.276−0.017 to 0.293159.12154.40
Time — pre-2003 and post-2008154,1480.3120.3410.023 to 0.31871.2585.40

Four different operationalizations of environmental supply chain practices were examined — upstream supplier facing practices, design practices, production practices and downstream customer facing practices. All operationalization moderators had positive significant effects with the exception of downstream customer facing practices on accounting-based performance. There were only five studies available with this link, and the failsafe number was negative meaning even one additional study could change these results. Design practices had the largest effect size on all three dimensions of performance (0.429, 0.416 and 0.359); however, the credibility interval for market-based and accounting-based performance showed that other moderators were at work. Upstream supplier facing practices demonstrated the best link to accounting-based performance with a strong positive effect (0.272), smaller credibility interval (0.024–0.248) and smaller Q statistic (37.19). Apparently, working with suppliers on environmental practices has the best tie to profitability metrics. Perhaps the other practices take more time to achieve improved profitability or returns, or there are other variables involved in this connection. The strongest results overall were the operationalization moderators on operational-based performance. Upstream, design and downstream practices all had significant, positive effects and smaller credibility intervals. Nearly any environmental supply chain practice impacts operational efficiency and effectiveness. Intuitively, it would seem that production practices would have a large direct effect on operational-based performance; however, production practices had the lowest effect (0.202) of the practices and a credibility interval (−0.096 to 0.298) that pointed to moderating variables. Perhaps individual production practices need to be examined separately or there could be an initial decrease in efficiency or effectiveness following implementation of environmental production practices

The studies in our sample examined a diverse range of businesses in terms of size, industry and geography. Thus, sample region, industry and firm size were tested as moderators, and all were significant except firm size when a single effect accounting for 85% of the mean effect weighting was removed. According to our results, any size firm should be able to achieve similar positive results from environmental supply chain practices. Industries represented included automotive, chemical, electronic technologies, food/wine, hospitality and others. Single industry studies achieved a slightly higher effect from environmental supply chain practices on performance, but the credibility interval of both data sets included zero. Studies using the automotive context achieved the best results (0.386 effect and 0.144–0.242 credibility interval). This industry has received a great deal of attention with respect to environmental initiatives; therefore this is not surprising. The geographic context of the studies included companies from countries in North America, the European Union and Southeast Asia. One would expect the European Union to have the highest results of these regions given their history of regulations in this area and Asia to have the lowest based on their reputation. Our analysis indicated the opposite — Asian companies demonstrated a significantly larger effect (0.451), while European companies had the largest credibility interval (−0.481 to 0.676) of the study. One explanation could have been differences in individual countries in Europe, but the five studies included were all conducted in Spain and Germany. It is possible that over the time of the studies, Europe has reached somewhat of a threshold with respect to environmental outcomes — the regulatory environment could in fact be counterproductive — while Asia has improved. With the exception of one study that relied on an international database of manufacturing firms, no studies appear to have investigated environmental supply chain practices involving organizations on the South American or African continents. This suggests a level of caution when interpreting the results in global terms. It also identifies an opportunity to extend research efforts to these additional regions and cultures.

Because economic conditions is a possible explanation for some of the results, and the economy has seen drastic fluctuations across businesses, we also examined this by using time as a moderator, grouping pre-2003 and post-2008 together as periods where outcomes from business initiatives might have been more difficult to realize. Interestingly, the performance results were stronger during the “more difficult” times (0.341 effect and 0.023–0.318 credibility interval). We would like to think that this result is due to the even larger impact environmental supply chain practices can have when times are tougher; however, it is possible that companies have simply gotten better at implementing environmental supply chain management practices over time or researchers better at studying these variables over time.

Study Implications

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

Efforts to assess the impact of CSR and environmental sustainability on business performance have garnered research attention since the 1980s. When the focus is directed to the more specific relationship between environmentally sustainable supply chain practices and firm performance, a review of manuscripts published since 1990 reveals a relatively young and emerging topic of study. Our search of over two decades of published research identified only 31 empirical studies with the first appearing in 2000. The results of our meta-analysis integrating data from these studies confirm that environmental supply chain practices positively influence three dimensions of firm performance: market-based, operational-based and accounting-based, and that there are moderators affecting these effects. The results have implications for theory and practice, and these are discussed next.

Theoretical Implications

Although research in sustainability occurs in different disciplines, studies such as this meta-analysis allow for examination of several different but related variables to determine the patterns of similarity or differences in construct label, definition and operationalization. The categorization illustrates the potential for grouping like constructs together. These types of exercises provide an opportunity to build a foundation for more consistent evaluation of relationships between variables. For example, previous meta-analyses concerned with sustainability have examined market-based and accounting-based dependent variables (Orlitzky et al., 2003; Wu 2006). Our classification of an operational-based dependent variable provides additional explanation of how improving environmental supply chain practices may influence performance, particularly because operational-based performance variables are widely used in SCM. Indeed, reducing material and equipment waste, improving conformance quality and achieving more reliable lead-times are all factors familiar to those in operations and supply chain research. We also categorized the types of supply chain practices into two externally focused (upstream and downstream facing practices) and two internally focused (design and production) variables. While all practices fall within supply chain management, each is aimed at accomplishing something more directed than the broader goal of managing the supply chain. Categorizing variables into more detail allows for an examination of more specific researched relationships to better explain what is happening and what could be contributing to differences in extant results.

Our hypotheses, grounded in the NRBV and R–A theory, sought to explain the relationship between environmental supply chain practices and the three dependent variables. Our positive and significant findings support the application of the NRBV, particularly with respect to value capture from the upstream and production variables and their increased performance outcomes. Likewise, the improved performance findings endorse the use of R–A theory through value creation from design and downstream variables. While the RBV has seen abundant attention in the supply chain literature, the NRBV substream has only recently been applied to research in supply chain management (Vachon & Klassen, 2006, 2008), and the complimentary combination of the two has not been done to the best of our knowledge. Thus, this study reinforces support for their use both individually and collectively as a theoretical foundation for supply chain practices such as environmental sustainability (Priem & Swink, 2012). Our results showed that environmental supply chain practices were positively associated with firm performance. The RBV and R–A theory note that variation in firm performance leads to competitive advantage, and researchers key to the development and application of these two theories argue that supply chain management practices are capabilities that result in variation in firm performance (Barney, 2012; Hunt & Davis, 2008). Thus, environmental supply chain practices are expected to not only enhance firm performance, but also provide sources of competitive advantage. Indeed, some of the articles used in the meta-analyses specifically found positive relationships between upstream supplier facing, design and production environmental practices and competitive advantage (Chen et al., 2006; Chiou et al., 2011; Christmann, 2000; Lopez-Gamero et al., 2010; Yang, Hong & Modi, 2011).

As SCM is a relatively young discipline, there are not many meta-analyses published. They will likely become more prevalent as studies on certain phenomena grow. The current research provides an explanation of the meta-analysis methods and popular resources for specific calculations. This should help other researchers in conducting such studies. Additionally, this paper examines common meta-analyses moderators that may contribute to differences in extant research, such as operationalization, industry, firm size and sample region. Those results point to areas that should receive closer attention when new studies are undertaken with respect to the performance results from environmental supply chain practices. In order to add to the understanding/explanation rather than the confusion, researchers need to ensure they use consistent definitions and operationalizations for constructs as well as note any nuances in their context.

Environmental supply chain practices are capabilities that can result in differentiated market-, operational- and accounting-based performance. Our positive and significant results support these relationships; the effect is not negative or nonsignificant. Thus, our study contributes to theory in SCM. Considering the growing importance of environmental sustainability in SCM, perhaps this presents an opportunity to include environmental supply chain practices as part of core supply chain processes or introduce it as an additional business process needed to manage a supply chain (Lambert, Garcia-Dastugue & Croxton, 2005).

Managerial Implications

For managers, the results of this study should provide more confidence that implementing environmental supply chain initiatives can help improve many aspects of firm performance. That level of confidence should strengthen because many of the results are derived from practices organizations may already have in place. For example, production practices such as total quality management and ISO 9000 certification efforts have been rapidly adopted across many industries (Saraiva & Duarte, 2003). Those same practices, when directed toward environmental issues, appear to result in similar positive outcomes such as reduced waste, shorter and more consistent lead-times, improved product and service quality and other benefits.

Our findings showed significant performance results from upstream supplier facing practices as well as design practices. These both occur early in managing the supply chain. Companies should strongly consider environmental issues when designing new products or processes as well as when engaging suppliers. These efforts should result in improved operational performance as well as profitability. For those companies operating in Asia, our results find that outcomes from environmental practices are better than past perception would lead one to believe. Those operating in Europe, however, should not take their regulatory environment for granted and assume that higher performance will automatically accompany environmental practices.

Businesses in general are coming to realize the importance of employing a supply chain orientation as they develop their corporate strategies and implement operational practices. They have become more effective at assessing the costs and benefits of integration with customer and supplier partners. The same techniques they employ now to plan and manage transactions with supply chain partners can likely be used to assess similar opportunities related to environmental sustainability and the potential outcomes for firm performance. While this may seem obvious, the fact is that many firms have been slow to adopt sustainable practices due to skepticism surrounding their outcomes, much as they were with quality practices two decade ago. The inconsistencies in research results to date have exasperated this situation. Our meta-analysis results provide more comprehensive evidence that firms will obtain positive financial results from their environmental supply chain efforts.

Limitations and Future Research

With all research, there are limitations, and although a meta-analysis achieves results that may suggest more accurate conclusions than those presented in a single study, this study is still no exception. In an effort to build confidence in our results, we conducted a file drawer analysis that showed the number of articles that would be needed to change any of our results. The analysis indicated a range anywhere between one article in the case of one of the moderators, to over 500 for the overall linkage. We did only use published research, and we were not able to use the sometimes recommended trim and fill method due to the expectation of moderators; therefore, it is possible our results have publication bias. The file drawer analysis for most of our results, however, suggests that it is unlikely that we missed enough studies in our search to impact the significance of our results. As added support, Pagell and Kristal (2011) find that the file drawer issue is not very common in supply chain management; thus, we at least do not expect to have missed studies from this discipline.

Given the short history of research concerned with the impact of environmental supply chain practices on firm performance, there are a number of avenues for researchers to contribute to the understanding of this phenomenon in future studies. Our study identified a great deal of variety in the operationalization of both independent and dependent variables. While commonalities in definitions helped us to categorize similar variables, we experienced cases where some constructs relied on a single-item measure and no assessment of reliability, to those that included five observed variables and provided solid evidence of psychometric validity and reliability. As this domain of study matures, it will be important to refine current and new measures that will be consistent in their ability to effectively identify and assess constructs and relationships.

When meta-analyzed, the results of studies to date support Porter and Kramer's (2006) win–win hypothesis with regard to building on environmentally sustainable business practices. However, much of the efforts by companies have been voluntary as the regulatory situation is a bit muddled. While the impact of environmental regulations is not specifically addressed in the studies examined here, future research should consider the role that regulation plays as an antecedent to environmental supply chain practices and resulting performance outcomes. The political environment at a national and global level clearly impacts environmental sustainability, and its role in performance achieved from it should be considered in future research. For example, will performance be stronger if governments and/or regulations drive sustainable efforts or if they are voluntary?

Studies employed in this analysis drew from three predominant business regions of the globe — North America, Europe and Asia — yet supply chains and evidence of the concerns for environmental sustainability both extend throughout the world. The geographic focus of future studies may provide insights into the role of culture in decisions surrounding sustainable business practices. The diversity in economic development, supply chain management sophistication, culture and governmental oversight represent interesting factors that warrant consideration in future studies.

Sustainability is an important consideration for business and supply chains as stakeholders are becoming increasingly concerned about society, the natural environment and the state of the economy. Thus, it is a fruitful area for research. Often just “doing the right thing” is not enough to change company behaviors; a case must be made for economic bottom-line benefits. This research synthesized two decades of past studies to show that the linkage is positive and significant — implementing environmental supply chain practices results in increased firm performance. Research such as this will provide support for firms to continue their efforts to employ environmental sustainability practices internally as well as with their supply chain partners.

  1. 1

    Throughout this paper, use of the word “sustainability” without a dimensional descriptor preceding it (i.e., environmental, financial or social) refers to the broad definition encompassing all three dimensions. When a specific dimension of sustainability is meant (e.g., environmental), the dimensional descriptor is used (e.g., environmental sustainability).

  2. 2

    The third strategy, sustainable development, is concerned with efforts in developing countries and, as this is not applicable to this paper, will not be discussed here.

  3. 3

    Moderating relationships in meta-analysis are often drawn from control variables in empirical studies. They are therefore not tested like standard moderators through variable interactions, and explanation of testing is discussed in the methodology section which follows.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies
  • Aguinis, H., Pierce, C. A., Bosco, F. A., Dalton, D. R., & Dalton, C. M. (2011). Debunking Myths and Urban Legends about Meta-analysis. Organizational Research Methods, 14 (2), 306331.
  • Aguinis, H., Sturman, M. C., & Pierce, C. A. (2008). Comparison of Three Meta-Analytic Procedures for Estimating Moderating Effects of Categorical Variables. Organizational Research Methods, 11 (1), 934.
  • Barney, J. B. (1991). Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage. Journal of Management, 17 (1), 99120.
  • Barney, J. B. (2012). Purchasing, Supply Chain Management and Sustained Competitive Advantage: The Relevance of Resource-Based Theory. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 48 (2), 36.
  • Carter, C. R. (2004). Purchasing and Social Responsibility: A Replication and Extension. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 40 (4), 416.
  • Carter, C. R., Kale, R., & Grimm, C. M. (2000). Environmental Purchasing and Firm Performance: An Empirical Investigation. Transportation Research Part E, 36 (3), 219228.
  • Carter, C. R., & Rogers, D. R. (2008). A Framework of Sustainable Supply Chain Management: Moving Toward New Theory. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 38 (5), 360387.
  • Chen, Y. (2008). The Driver of Green Innovation and Green Image — Green Core Competence. Journal of Business Ethics, 81 (3), 531543.
  • Chen, Y., Lai, S., & Wen, C. (2006). The Influence of Green Innovation Performance on Corporate Advantage in Taiwan. Journal of Business Ethics, 67 (4), 331339.
  • Chiou, T., Chan, H. K., Lettice, F., & Chung, S. H. (2011). The Influence of Greening the Suppliers and Green Innovation on Environmental Performance and Competitive Advantage in Taiwan. Transportation Research Part E, 47 (6), 822836.
  • Christmann, P. (2000). Effects of “Best Practices” of Environmental Management on Cost Advantage: The Role of Complementary Assets. Academy of Management Journal, 43 (4), 663680.
  • Chung, Y., & Tsai, C. (2007). The Effect of Green Design Activities on New Product Strategies and Performance: An Empirical Study among High-tech Companies. International Journal of Management, 24 (2), 276288.
  • Corbett, C. J., & Kleindorfer, P. R. (2001). “Introduction to the Special Issue on Environmental Management and Operations (Part 1: Manufacturing and Eco-Logistics). Production and Operations Management, 10 (3), 107111.
  • Fraj-Andres, E., Martinez-Salinas, E., & Matute-Vallejo, J. (2009). A Multidimensional Approach to the Influence of Environmental Marketing and Orientation on the Firm's Organizational Performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 88 (2), 263286.
  • Frooman, J. (1997). Socially Irresponsible and Illegal Behavior and Shareholder Wealth: A Meta-Analysis of Event Studies. Business and Society, 33 (3), 221249.
  • Geyskens, I., Krishnam, R., Steenkamp, J. E. M., & Cunha, P. V. (2009). A Review and Evaluation of Meta-Analysis Practices in Management Research. Journal of Management, 35 (2), 393419.
  • Geyskens, I., J.E.M. Steenkamp and N. Kumar. “Make, Buy or Ally: A Transactional Cost Theory Meta-Analysis,” Academy of Management Journal, (49:3), 2006, pp. 519543.
  • Gilley, K. M., Worrel, D. L., & El-Jelly, A. (2000). Corporate Environmental Initiatives and Anticipated Firm Performance: The Differential Effects of Process-Driven Versus Product-Driven Greening Initiatives. Journal of Management, 26 (6), 11991216.
  • Gold, S., Seuring, S., & Beske, P. (2010). Sustainable Supply Chain Management and Inter-Organizational Resources: A Literature Review. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 17 (4), 230245.
  • Gonzalez-Benito, J., & Gonzalez-Benito, O. (2005). Environmental Proactivity and Business Performance: An Empirical Analysis. Omega, 33 (1), 115.
  • Griffin, J. J., & Mahon, J. F. (1997). The Corporate Social Performance and Corporate Financial Performance Debate. Business and Society, 36 (1), 531.
  • Gunasekaran, A., & Kobu, B. (2007). Performance Measures and Metrics in Logistics and Supply Chain Management: A Review of Recent Literature (1995–2004) for Research and Applications. International Journal of Production Research, 45 (12), 28192840.
  • Hart, S. L. (1995). A Natural-Resource-Based View of the Firm. Academy of Management Review, 20 (4), 9861014.
  • Hult, G. T. M., Ketchun, Jr., D. J., Adams, G. L., & Mena, J. A. (2008a). Supply Chain Orientation and Balanced Scorecard Performance. Journal of Managerial Issues, 20 (4), 526544.
  • Hult, G. T. M., Ketchun, Jr., D. J., Griffith, D. A., Chabowski, B. R., Hamman, M. K., Dykes, B. J., … & Cavusgil, S. T. (2008b). An Assessment of the Measurement of Performance in International Business Research. Journal of International Business Studies, 39 (6), 10641080.
  • Hunt, S. D. (2000). A General Theory of Competition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Hunt, S. D., & Davis, D. F. (2008). Grounding Supply Chain Management in Resource–Advantage Theory. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 44 (1), 1021.
  • Hunter, J. E., & Schmidt, F. L. (1990). Methods of Meta-Analysis. Correcting Error and Bias in Research Findings: Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
  • Jayaram, J., S. Vickery and C. Droge. “Relationship Building, Lean Strategy and Firm Performance: An Exploratory Study in the Automotive Supplier Industry,” International Journal of Production Research, (46:20), 2008, pp. 56335649.
  • Kassinis, G. I., & Soteriou, A. C. (2003). Greening the Service Profit Chain: The Impact of Environmental Management Practices. Production and Operations Management, 12 (3), 386403.
  • Kenny, D. A. (1979). Correlation and Causality (p. 30). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Kleindorfer, P. R., Singhal, K., & Van Wassenhove, L. N. (2005). Sustainable Operations Management. Production and Operations Management, 14 (4), 482492.
  • Lambert, D. M., Garcia-Dastugue, S. J., & Croxton, K. L. (2005). An Evaluation of Process-Oriented Supply Chain Management Frameworks. Journal of Business Logistics, 26 (1), 2551.
  • Large, R. O., & Thomsen, C. G. (2011). Drivers of Green Supply Management Performance: Evidence from Germany. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 17 (3), 176184.
  • Linton, J. D., Klassen, R., & Jayaraman, V. (2007). Sustainable Supply Chains: An Introduction. Journal of Operations Management, 25 (6), 11751082.
  • Lopez-Gamero, M. D., Molina-Azorin, J. F., & Claver-Cortes, E. (2010). The Potential of Environmental Regulation to Change Managerial Perception, Environmental Management, Competitiveness and Financial Performance. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18 (10), 963974.
  • Margolis, J.D., Elfenbein, H.A., & Walsh, J.P. (2009). Does it Pay to Be Good…And Does it Matter? A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Corporate Social and Financial Performance. Retrieved from (accessed October 18, 2011).
  • McDaniel, M. A., Rothstein, H. R., & Whetzel, D. L. (2006). Publication Bias: A Case Study of Four Test Vendors. Personnel Psychology, 50, 927953.
  • Menon, A., & Menon, A. (1997). Enviropreneurial Marketing Strategy: The Emergence of Corporate Environmentalism as Market Strategy. Journal of Marketing, 61 (1), 5167.
  • Mentzer, J. T., DeWitt, W., Keebler, J. S., Min, S., Nix, N. W., Smith, C. D., & Zacharia, Z. G. (2001). Defining Supply Chain Management. Journal of Business Logistics, 22 (2), 125.
  • Olorunniwo, F. O., & Li, X. (2010). Information Sharing and Collaboration Practices in Reverse Logistics. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 15 (6), 454462.
  • Orlitzky, M. (2001). Does Firm Size Confound the Relationship Between Corporate Social Performance and Firm Financial Performance? Journal of Business Ethics, 33 (2), 167180.
  • Orlitzky, M., & Benjamin, J. D. (2001). Corporate Social Performance and Firm Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review. Business and Society, 40 (4), 369396.
  • Orlitzky, M., Schmidt, F. L., & Reynes, S. L. (2003). Corporate Social and Financial Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Organization Studies, 24 (3), 403441.
  • Pagell, M., & Kristal, M. M. (2011). Is the Supply Chain Management File Drawer Empty? Journal of Supply Chain Management, 47 (4), 310.
  • Paulraj, A. (2011). Understanding the Relationships between Internal Resources Capabilities, Sustainable Supply Management and Organizational Sustainability. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 47 (1), 1937.
  • Peng, Y., & Lin, S. (2008). Local Responsiveness Pressure, Subsidiary Resources, Green Management Adoption and Subsidiary's Performance: Evidence from Taiwanese Manufacturers. Journal of Business Ethics, 79 (1/2), 199212.
  • Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2006). Strategy & Society: The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 84 (12), 7892.
  • Porter, M. E., & van der Linde, C. (1995). Green and Competitive: Ending the Stalemate. Harvard Business Review, 73 (5), 120133.
  • Priem, R. L., & Swink, M. (2012). A Demand-Side Perspective on Supply Chain Management. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 48 (2), 713.
  • Pullman, M. E., Maloni, M. J., & Carter, C. R. (2009). Food for Thought: Social Versus Environmental Sustainability Practices and Performance Outcomes. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 45 (4), 3854.
  • Pullman, M. E., Maloni, M. J., & Dillard, J. (2010). Sustainability Practices in Food Supply Chains: How is Wine Different? Journal of Wine Research, 21 (1), 3556.
  • Rahman, S., Laosirihongthong, T., & Sohal, A. S. (2010). Impact of Lean Strategy on Operational Performance: A Study of Thai Manufacturing Companies. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 21 (7), 839852.
  • Rao, P., & Holt, D. (2005). Do Green Supply Chains Lead to Competitiveness and Economic Performance? International Journal of Operations and Production Research, 25 (9), 898916.
  • Richey, R. G., Genchev, S. E., & Daugherty, P. J. (2005). The Role of Resource Commitment and Innovation in Reverse Logistics Performance. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 35 (4), 233257.
  • Rosenthal, R. (1984). Meta-Analytic Procedures for Social Research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Russo, M. V., & Fouts, P. A. (1997). A Resource-Based Perspective on Corporate Environmental Performance and Profitability. Academy of Management Journal, 40 (3), 534559.
  • Sagie, A., & Koslowsky, M. (1993). Detecting Moderators with Meta-Analysis: An Evaluation and Comparison of Techniques. Personnel Psychology, 46 (3), 629640.
  • Saraiva, P. M., & Duarte, B. (2003). ISO 9000: Some Statistical Results for a Worldwide Phenomenon. Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, 14 (10), 11691178.
  • Schulze, R. (2004). Meta-Analysis: A Comparison of Approaches. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers.
  • Skinner, L. R., Bryant, P. T., & Richey, R. G. (2008). Examining the Impact of Reverse Logistics Disposition Strategies. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 38 (7), 518539.
  • Srivastava, S. K. (2007). Green Supply-Chain Management: A State-of-the-Art Review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9 (1), 5380.
  • Sroufe, R. (2003). Effects of Environmental Management Systems on Environmental Management Practices and Operations. Production and Operations Management, 12 (3), 416431.
  • UN Documents. (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: One Common Future, published as annex to General Assembly document A/42/427. Retrieved from (acces-sed December 8, 2010).
  • Vachon, S., & Klassen, R. D. (2006). Green Project Partnership in the Supply Chain: The Case of the Package Printing Industry. Journal of Cleaner Production, 14 (6/7), 661671.
  • Vachon, S., & Klassen, R. D. (2008). Environmental Management and Manufacturing Performance: The Role of Collaboration in the Supply Chain. International Journal of Production Economics, 111 (2), 299315.
  • Wernerfelt, B. (1984). A Resource-based View of the Firm. Strategic Management Journal, 5 (2), 171180.
  • Wolf, F. M. (1986). Meta-Analysis: Quantitative Methods for Research Synthesis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Wood, J. A. (2008). Methodology for Dealing with Duplicate Study Effects in a Meta-Analysis. Organizational Research Methods, 11 (1), 7995.
  • Wood, D. J. (2010). Measuring Corporate Social Performance. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12 (1), 5084.
  • Wood, D. J., & Jones, S. E. (1995). Stakeholder Mismatching: A Theoretical Problem in Empirical Research on Corporate Social Performance. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 3 (3), 229267.
  • Wu, M. “Corporate Social Performance, Corporate Financial Performance, and Firm Size: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of the American Academy of Business, (8:1), 2006, pp. 163171.
  • Wu, S. J., Melnyk, S. A., & Calantone, R. J. (2008). Assessing the Core Resources in the Environmental Management System from the Resource Perspective and the Contingency Perspective. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 55 (2), 304315.
  • Wu, Z., & Pagell, M. (2011). Balancing Priorities: Decision-Making in Sustainable Supply Chain Management. Journal of Operations Management, 29 (6), 577590.
  • Yang, M. G., Hong, P., & Modi, S. B. (2011). Impact of Lean Manufacturing and Environmental Management on Business Performance: An Empirical Study of Manufacturing Firms. International Journal of Production Economics, 129 (2), 251261.
  • Yang, C., Lin, S., Chan, Y., & Sheu, C. (2010). Mediated Effect of Environmental Management on Manufacturing Competitiveness: An Empirical Study. International Journal of Production Economics, 123 (1), 210220.
  • Zeng, S. X., Meng, X. H., Yin, H. T., Tam, C. M., & Sun, L. (2010). Impact of Cleaner Production on Business Performance. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18 (10), 975983.
  • Zhu, Q., & Sarkis, J. (2004). Relationships between Operational Practices and Performance among Early Adopters of Green Supply Chain Management Practices in Chinese Manufacturing Enterprises. Journal of Operations Management, 22 (3), 265289.
  • Zhu, Q., Sarkis, J., & Lai, K. (2007). Green Supply Chain Management: Pressures, Practices and Performance within the Chinese Automobile Industry. Journal of Cleaner Production, 15 (11/12), 10411052.

Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies

Note: A complete list and overview of the studies included in the meta-analysis was provided during the review process, and is available from the first author upon request.

Thumbnail image of


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Theoretical Background and Research Framework
  5. Methodology
  6. Results
  7. Study Implications
  8. References
  9. Appendix A: Overview of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis
  10. Biographies
  • Susan L. Golicic (Ph.D., University of Tennessee) is the Herbert Family Research Fellow and an associate professor of supply chain management in the College of Business at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her primary research interests include the management of business relationships, strategy and sustainability in the supply chain. Dr. Golicic's current projects focus on the creation and development of supply chain strategy by entrepreneurs launching innovative enterprises, and on innovation and sustainability in the global wine supply chain from grower to consumer. In addition to the Journal of Supply Chain Management, other journals in which articles by Dr. Golicic have appeared include the Journal of Operations Management, the Journal of Business Logistics, Sloan Management Review, the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Carlo D. Smith (Ph.D., University of Tennessee) is an assistant professor of supply chain management, and Director of the Supply Chain Management Institute, at Central Washington University in Des Moines, Washington. He has spent more than a decade working in the private sector, including positions as a management consultant and executive educator with E3 Associates; Director of Inventory Management for West Marine Products; and a Principal with CSC Federal Systems. Dr. Smith has published articles in a variety of outlets that include the Journal of Business Logistics, the International Journal of Forecasting, Business Horizons, the Journal of Business Forecasting and the Journal of Transportation Management.