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Themes and challenges in developing sustainable supply chains

Abbasi, Maisam LU (2012)
Abstract
Sustainable development is one of the greatest global challenges facing human beings in the 21st century. In order to tackle sustainability related problems, several global, European, and national targets for 2050 have been set. The transition of supply chains activities towards sustainability targets calls for designing new strategies and continuously identifying and tackling the challenges that can hinder the operationalization of such strategies.



The purpose of this research was to explore and classify themes and challenges in developing sustainable supply chains activities in general, and freight transport and urban distribution in particular. Three research questions were defined followed by defining the scientific... (More)
Sustainable development is one of the greatest global challenges facing human beings in the 21st century. In order to tackle sustainability related problems, several global, European, and national targets for 2050 have been set. The transition of supply chains activities towards sustainability targets calls for designing new strategies and continuously identifying and tackling the challenges that can hinder the operationalization of such strategies.



The purpose of this research was to explore and classify themes and challenges in developing sustainable supply chains activities in general, and freight transport and urban distribution in particular. Three research questions were defined followed by defining the scientific assumptions and research strategies. Three research studies were then designed and carried out to find trustworthy and authentic answers to the corresponding research questions. However, research design, data collection, and data analysis were mixed and overlapping as they were not completely sequentially carried out. Data were collected by triangulation of different research methods, namely, literature review, content analysis, and semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the data was guided by principles of content analysis, discourse analysis, analytic induction, and grounded theory. Synthesis of the analyzed data resulted in the emergence of categories of themes and challenges, the development of hypotheses, and further discussion.



In total, five categories of themes were identified for making supply chains environmentally sustainable, fifteen for making freight transport sustainable, and eight for making urban freight distribution sustainable. Five categories of challenges were identified for making supply chains environmentally sustainable, five for making freight transport sustainable, and seven for making urban freight distribution sustainable. All the themes and challenges were then synthesized to determine the patterns of their association. Five major themes in developing sustainable supply chains emerged, namely, increasing sustainability awareness, closing the loop of supply chains, making supply chains energy-efficient, making supply chains environmentally responsible, and managerial issues. Five major challenges in developing sustainable supply chains emerged, namely, change of behavior, costs, implementation, corporate governance, and antagonistic effects and paradoxical conflicts.



As the nature of supply chains and the challenges identified in developing them sustainably is complex, a complexity theory perspective was considered beneficial for dealing with them. Such a perspective can enable us to: take a more holistic view of available sustainability-oriented strategies and activities; analyze the antagonistic effects of strategies and activities on each other; recognize conflicts of a paradoxical character that exist in supply chains; analyze the changes influencing and influenced by the strategies and activities; appreciate enough diversity and freedom among the sub-systems rather than too much simplification of them; design and redesign the transition paths for different types of supply chains.



A complexity theory perspective can also be beneficial when governing a transformative transition of supply chains towards sustainability targets. Lessons are suggested in the discussion chapter that may help policy and decision makers in designing the future strategies and in tackling the challenges. The themes identified can be beneficial for increasing the absorptive capacity of industries, practitioners, and policy makers while they design innovative strategies for transitions towards sustainability targets. The identified challenges can also be beneficial for reducing the inertia and uncertainties against operationalization of sustainable development in practice. (Less)
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supervisor
organization
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type
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publication status
published
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pages
147 pages
publisher
Lund University
ISBN
978-91-7473-305-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0b5778f2-7eaa-4e41-988b-d8cfa0236b50 (old id 2540281)
date added to LUP
2012-08-22 08:17:34
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:07
@misc{0b5778f2-7eaa-4e41-988b-d8cfa0236b50,
  abstract     = {Sustainable development is one of the greatest global challenges facing human beings in the 21st century. In order to tackle sustainability related problems, several global, European, and national targets for 2050 have been set. The transition of supply chains activities towards sustainability targets calls for designing new strategies and continuously identifying and tackling the challenges that can hinder the operationalization of such strategies.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The purpose of this research was to explore and classify themes and challenges in developing sustainable supply chains activities in general, and freight transport and urban distribution in particular. Three research questions were defined followed by defining the scientific assumptions and research strategies. Three research studies were then designed and carried out to find trustworthy and authentic answers to the corresponding research questions. However, research design, data collection, and data analysis were mixed and overlapping as they were not completely sequentially carried out. Data were collected by triangulation of different research methods, namely, literature review, content analysis, and semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the data was guided by principles of content analysis, discourse analysis, analytic induction, and grounded theory. Synthesis of the analyzed data resulted in the emergence of categories of themes and challenges, the development of hypotheses, and further discussion.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
In total, five categories of themes were identified for making supply chains environmentally sustainable, fifteen for making freight transport sustainable, and eight for making urban freight distribution sustainable. Five categories of challenges were identified for making supply chains environmentally sustainable, five for making freight transport sustainable, and seven for making urban freight distribution sustainable. All the themes and challenges were then synthesized to determine the patterns of their association. Five major themes in developing sustainable supply chains emerged, namely, increasing sustainability awareness, closing the loop of supply chains, making supply chains energy-efficient, making supply chains environmentally responsible, and managerial issues. Five major challenges in developing sustainable supply chains emerged, namely, change of behavior, costs, implementation, corporate governance, and antagonistic effects and paradoxical conflicts. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
As the nature of supply chains and the challenges identified in developing them sustainably is complex, a complexity theory perspective was considered beneficial for dealing with them. Such a perspective can enable us to: take a more holistic view of available sustainability-oriented strategies and activities; analyze the antagonistic effects of strategies and activities on each other; recognize conflicts of a paradoxical character that exist in supply chains; analyze the changes influencing and influenced by the strategies and activities; appreciate enough diversity and freedom among the sub-systems rather than too much simplification of them; design and redesign the transition paths for different types of supply chains. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
A complexity theory perspective can also be beneficial when governing a transformative transition of supply chains towards sustainability targets. Lessons are suggested in the discussion chapter that may help policy and decision makers in designing the future strategies and in tackling the challenges. The themes identified can be beneficial for increasing the absorptive capacity of industries, practitioners, and policy makers while they design innovative strategies for transitions towards sustainability targets. The identified challenges can also be beneficial for reducing the inertia and uncertainties against operationalization of sustainable development in practice.},
  author       = {Abbasi, Maisam},
  isbn         = {978-91-7473-305-1},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {147},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x7d72f18)},
  title        = {Themes and challenges in developing sustainable supply chains},
  year         = {2012},
}