Solutions from Space? A Dynamic Capabilities Perspective on the Growing Use of Satellite Technology for Managing Sustainability in Multi-tier Supply Chains

Lisa Heldt*, Philip Beske-Janssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Distant upstream tiers in supply chains are hotspots for sustainability issues that expose focal firms to growing reputational, financial, operational and legal risks – yet sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) practice and research still focus on dyadic buyer-supplier relationships due to poor upstream transparency. Recently, however, focal firms have started adopting satellite technology as a tool for gaining systematic, continuous and direct oversight of issues like deforestation occurring far upstream to complement standards and certifications. This could transform multi-tier SSCM dynamics but, being a novel phenomenon, it remains unclear which organizational capabilities and collaborations focal firms apply to leverage remote sensing's potential. Combining dynamic capabilities theory and a multi-tier SSCM framework, our paper analyzes the current use of satellite technology in forest-risk commodity supply chains. Triangulating insights from interviews, documents and observations in a qualitative content analysis, the study finds that effective multi-tier SSCM relies on (a) internal resources providing four functions (traceability; monitoring; follow-up; stakeholder accountability), (b) complemented with external resources accessed through strategically selected collaborations that (c) take the form of working along supply chains, across supply chains and across sectors. The results show that technology-driven multi-tier SSCM can hold strategic benefits beyond risk reduction. Further research is needed to assess these relations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108864
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Sustainable supply chain management
  • Multi-tier supply chains
  • Sustainability risks
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Satellite technology
  • Deforestation
  • Due diligence

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