Supply Chain Forum:
An International Journal
Special issue: Practicing sustainability in Operations & Supply Chain Management
November 2nd, 2021
About the issue:
Over the last decades the exploration of sustainability in the context of operations and supply chain management (SCM) has become a significant field of research (Touboulic and Walker, 2015). This undoubtedly stems from the fact that the global organising of business operations is responsible for much of the environmental degradation and social exploitation that is witnessed in the world. Yet much of the research to date is still very much rooted in an observation-led paradigm and the field has primarily adopted a narrow focus on sustainability following an instrumental logic (Gold and Schleper, 2017; Montabon et al., 2016), which overshadow the diversity of different possibilities to advance the practice of sustainability and drive lasting change.
Practicing sustainability in SCs exceeds focus on a goal itself to consider how actors are performing and learning actions over time as a practice (Silva and Figueiredo, 2020).This requires engagement with the reality in which these actors work and interact, and a thorough understanding of the specific and broader contextual dynamics in which they are embedded (Touboulic et al., 2020). Developing sustainability as practice is about understanding habitus, which considers not only those aspects that are known, but also requires defining emerging elements and meanings in order to drive action. It is important to highlight that this reality is changing over time and expectations on how to practice sustainability in SCs are influenced by some important trends in the broader context, such as political aspects or emerging international frameworks, e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations (Fritz and Silva, 2018; Fritz, 2019). Practicising sustainability is therefore intrisincally multilevel and bridges disciplinary boundaries; two facets currently under-represented in the field. Practicing sustainability also requires multi-stakeholder approaches and although this is widely recognised, stakeholders’ roles, expectations and level of impact in the SC would benefit from further attention, in particular to develop more concrete implications for practitioners (Fritz et al., 2018).
This Special Issue on practicing sustainability in operations and SCM therefore aims at highlighting multi-disciplinary approaches that do not only show the importance, but also demonstrate empirically how to practice sustainability in SCs, how change can be fostered at various levels, and what roles stakeholders may play within and outside the SC.
The use of novel theoretical lenses and concepts as well as their combination with current literature is highly encouraged for this SI as it intends to offer a platform not only for traditional empirical research but also promote alternative approaches such as engaged and activist research (Touboulic et al., 2020 ; Touboulic and McCarthy, 2019), with strong engagement toward sustainability practice. For instance, contributions following a critical approach to understand SCs are welcome, such as the emerging and promising area of research on decolonising sustainability studies (Touboulic et al., 2020).
The scopes and levels can be broad (e.g., the whole supply chain in its broader context) or narrow (e.g., one specific department within an organisation, e.g. purchasing department), and different stakeholder voices may be presented. Contributions must explore the practice of sustainability and strong empirical evidence in different countries is particularly welcome. Methodologically, like conceptually, this SI calls for diversity. Qualitative methods providing deep dives into the reality and context of practising sustainability (e.g., action research, ethnography, observations, etc.) are encouraged. Making sustainability flourish is important to understand how to turn sustainability into practice; hence we believe that to further advance change worldwide in operations and SCM, developing engaged research is timely and significant.
Submissions may include but are not restricted to the following topics:
The various meanings of sustainability as practice in operations and SCM (e.g. multi-disciplinary lenses, narrative methods, etc.)
Practicing sustainability through the Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability learning and knowledge management in operations and SCM
Differences and similarities in practicing sustainability at different geographical scales (e.g., local, regional, national, cross-countries, global supply chains)
Exploring sustainability practice in different socioeconomic contexts (e.g., bottom-of-the-pyramid economies, emerging economies, industrialised economies)
Mapping of internal and external supply chain stakeholders’ expectations, impact and engagement regarding sustainability practices in operations and SCM (e.g., public-private partnerships, sustainable procurement, NGOs)
Under-represented voices in the practice of sustainability (e.g. marginalised actors)
Development, improvement or re-design of tools to practice sustainability in operations and SCM
New theoretical lenses to study sustainability practices in operations and SCM
Practicing sustainability through activist research
Fritz, M. M. C. (2019). Sustainable Supply Chain Management. In W. Leal Filho et al. (eds.) (Ed.), Responsible Consumption and Production, Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (pp. 1–14).
Fritz, M. M. C., & Silva, M. E. (2018). Exploring supply chain sustainability research in Latin America. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management.
Fritz, M. M. C., Rauter, R., Baumgartner, R. J., & Dentchev, N. (2018). A supply chain perspective of stakeholder identification as a tool for responsible policy and decision-making. Environmental Science and Policy, 81, 63–76.
Gold, S., & Schleper, M. C. (2017). A pathway towards true sustainability: A recognition foundation of sustainable supply chain management. European Management Journal, 35(4), 425-429.
Montabon, F., Pagell, M., & Wu, Z. (2016). Making sustainability sustainable. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 52(2), 11-27.
Silva, M. E., & Figueiredo, M. D. (2020). Practicing sustainability for responsible business in supply chains. Journal of Cleaner Production, 251, 119621.
Touboulic, A., & McCarthy, L. (2020). Collective Action in SCM: A call for activist research. International Journal of Logistics Management.
Touboulic, A., McCarthy, L., & Matthews, L. (2020). Re‐imagining supply chain challenges through critical engaged research. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 56(2), 36-51.
Touboulic, A., & Walker, H. (2015). Theories in sustainable supply chain management: a structured literature review. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management.
Special Issue information:
This SI is associated with the EurOMA Forum conference taking place on 22nd and 23rd of March 2021 at La Rochelle Business School, Excelia Group in La Rochelle, France. However, contributions from researchers who did not attend the conference will also be considered.
Submissions will be subject to a double-blind peer review process. Online submissions to Supply Chain Forum: an International Journal are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system.
Registration and access is available at http://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/scfij
Information concerning formatting is available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=tscf2
Opening of the call: March 2021
Deadline for submissions of full papers: November 2nd, 2021
Notification of final acceptance for publication: September 1st, 2022
The special issue is expected to appear in December 2022
Questions should be addressed to the guest editors:
Associate Professor in Supply Chain Sustainability Management, La Rochelle Business School - Excelia Group, La Rochelle, France
Associate Professor in Supply Chain Sustainability, La Rochelle Business School - Excelia Group, La Rochelle, France
Associate Professor in Operations Management
Acting Chair, Social Environmental Responsibility Group
Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Supply Chain Forum: an International Journal is published by Taylor & Francis Group