Dancing the Supply Chain: Toward Transformative Supply Chain Management

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Most of the theories that have dominated supply chain management (SCM) take a reductionist and static view on the supply chain and its management, promoting a global hunt for cheap labor and resources. As a result, supply chains tend to be operated without much concern for their broader contextual environment. This perspective overlooks that supply chains have become both vulnerable and harmful systems. Recent and ongoing crises have emphasized that the structures and processes of supply chains are fluid and interwoven with political‐economic and planetary phenomena. Building on panarchy theory, this article reinterprets the supply chain as a social‐ecological system and leaves behind a modernist view of SCM, replacing it with a more contemporary vision of “dancing the supply chain.” A panarchy is a structure of adaptive cycles that are linked across different levels on scales of time, space, and meaning. It represents the world’s complexities more effectively than reductionist and static theories ever could, providing the basis for transformative SCM.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)58-73
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 20. November 2020.


  • Panarchy
  • Adaptive cycle
  • Dancing
  • Social-ecological system
  • Social-Ecological resilience
  • Transformative management

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