Acknowledgment: We wish to thank the editors at JSCM for inviting us to share our thoughts and the reviewers for making these thoughts much more coherent. We also need to thank Tom Gattiker, Mellie Pullman, and Zhaohui Wu for providing invaluable and insightful feedback on an early draft of the manuscript. Finally, an early version of this manuscript was presented as the keynote address at the 2013 IPSERA conference in Nantes, France.
Why Research in Sustainable Supply Chain Management Should Have no Future
Article first published online: 7 FEB 2014
© 2014 Institute for Supply Management, Inc.
Journal of Supply Chain Management
Volume 50, Issue 1, pages 44–55, January 2014
How to Cite
Pagell, M. and Shevchenko, A. (2014), Why Research in Sustainable Supply Chain Management Should Have no Future. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 50: 44–55. doi: 10.1111/jscm.12037
- Issue published online: 7 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 7 FEB 2014
- Accepted manuscript online: 5 DEC 2013 01:32PM EST
- supply chain management;
- sustainable supply chain management
In the last two decades, the topic of sustainability has moved from the fringes of supply chain management research to the mainstream and is now an area of significant research activity. In this paper, we argue that while this increase in acceptance and activity is welcome and has lead to a greater understanding of sustainability, our present knowledge is not sufficient to create truly sustainable supply chains. We build on this insight to identify five main issues that future research needs to address. We argue that when it comes to the theory of sustainable supply chain management, previous research has focused on the synergistic and familiar while overlooking trade-offs and radical innovation. These theoretical issues are compounded by measures that do not truly capture a supply chain's impacts and methods that are better at looking backwards than forwards. The paper concludes by proposing a series of recommendations that address these issues to help in the development of truly sustainable supply chains.