Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Developing a Focal Firm's Sustainable Supply Chain Framework: Drivers, Orientation, Practices and Performance Outcomes
by Yang, Ma Ga, Ph.D., The University of Toledo, 2013, 312; 10631395
Abstract (Summary)

As global pressures to address climate change intensify, the costs of natural resources increase, public health and safety concerns grow, and diverse consumption patterns emerge, sustainability has become critical for competing in international markets (Epstein, 2008; Lubin and Esty, 2010; Wu and Pagell, 2011). The goal of sustainability is grounded in the concept of the triple bottom line, which indicates that balancing objectives related to profits, the planet, and people is essential for corporations as they grow and compete in the global economy (Kleindorfer et al., 2005).

Taking advantage of a broad and systemic approach to addressing sustainability issues, researchers increasingly acknowledge that linking sustainability with the supply chain is a crucial step for operations management (Hall, 2000; Zhu and Sarkis, 2004; Koplin et al., 2007; Matos and Hall, 2007). Despite a growing number of studies on sustainability from the point of view of the supply chain (Linton et al., 2007; Carter and Rogers, 2009; Pagell and Wu, 2009; Pullman et al., 2009), few researchers have developed an empirically based integrative research framework grounded in relevant theories. In particular, the literature lacks research that empirically examines the nomological network of sustainable supply chain encompassing drivers, strategy, practices, and performance outcomes with consideration for all three dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental, and social performance) (Elkington, 1994, 1997; Kleindorfer et al., 2005; Seuring and Muller, 2008).

Drawing from the theoretical lenses of institutional theory (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983), strategic choice theory (Child, 1972), strategic orientation (Venkatraman, 1989), and the resource-based view of firms (Barney, 1991), this dissertation presents a framework, by taking a holistic view, of a sustainable supply chain aimed at explaining the relationships between the antecedents, strategic orientation, supply chain practices, and performance outcomes.

To develop reliable and valid instruments, this study conducted vigorous research methods, including pretest, structural interview, and pilot study (n=34). The hypothesized relationships in the proposed model are tested using structural equation modeling (SEM) from a large-scale survey of 212 U.S. manufacturing firms. Adopting Anderson and Gerbing's (1988) two-step approach, this study first tested confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) measurement model to establish validity and reliability of the scales. Next, the structural relationships were tested. Overall, 10 out of 15 hypotheses are supported, indicating that the proposed model may need to be revised. To find alternative significant paths, revised structural model with additional paths is conducted.

The empirical findings suggest that (1) external pressures (EPs) not only have a direct effect on firms' strategic sustainability orientation (SSO), but also have an indirect effect on it through top leadership culture (TLC) for sustainability, (2) higher SSO enables firms to implement sustainable supply chain–based activities, (3) sustainability performance is realized only through firms' internal operations management practices, (4) supplier management practices do not have a direct effect on sustainability performance, rather they indirectly influence sustainability performance through their effect on operations management practices, and (5) customer management practices influence the social dimension of a firm's sustainability performance.

In sum, the contributions of this research are threefold: (1) identifying sustainable supply chain practices that consider the triple bottom line perspective in the context of the U.S. manufacturing industry, (2) identifying and developing the constructs for focal firms' sustainable supply chains, encompassing drivers, SSO, core sustainability practices, and performance outcomes, and (3) empirically validating how firms generate sustainable competitive advantage through sustainable supply chain practices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vonderembse, Mark, Modi, Sachin
Commitee: Haase, Dwight, Hong, Paul, Modi, Sachin, Vonderembse, Mark, Westjohn, Stanford
School: The University of Toledo
Department: Manufacturing and Technology Management
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Business administration, Alternative Energy, Management, Environmental management, Environmental Studies
Keywords: Empirical study, Structural equation modeling, Sustainability, Sustainable operations, Sustainable supply chain, U.S. manufacturing firms
Publication Number: 10631395
ISBN: 9780355016420
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