On Theories for Researching Sustainability

Thomas E. Johnsen, Federico Caniato

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


In this chapter we discuss why theories that are applicable to Purchasing and Supply Chain Management in general may not be easily transferrable or appropriate to research that focuses on sustainability. We then present four theoretical perspectives that better fit the purpose: Natural Resource Based View, Stakeholder Theory, Institutional Theory and Industrial Marketing & Purchasing Interaction Approach. In this chapter we examine why these four theoretical perspectives are suitable for researching sustainable PSCM. Having presented the four theoretical perspectives, we put forth some more recent promising theories that introduce some new perspectives that would help researchers to break new ground: Social-Resource-Based View (SRBV), Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS), the Ecologically Dominant Logic, and Panarchy Theory. We begin by comparing the four main theories that we focus on, discussing their strengths and limitations from the perspective of sustainable PSCM research. We then offer some guidance on the types of sustainability themes and research questions that are suitable to study through these perspectives. At the end of the chapter we briefly present the more recent theories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Theories for Purchasing, Supply Chain and Management Research
EditorsWendy L. Tate, Lisa M. Ellram, Lydia Bals
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9781839104497
ISBN (Electronic)9781839104503
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesResearch Handbooks in Business and Management

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