Sustainable Supply Chain Design in Social Businesses: Advancing the Theory of Supply Chain

Lydia Bals, Wendy L. Tate

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A significant conceptual and practical challenge for companies is how to integrate triple bottom line (TBL) sustainability into their global supply chains. In supply chain research, the classic economic perspective—the business of business is to be profitable—still dominates, followed by coverage of the environmental dimension; the social dimension is underrepresented. Stakeholders, however, are calling for a TBL perspective that simultaneously includes environmental, social, and economic gains. While there have been recent theoretical advances on how to characterize supply chains in terms of their structure, how to connect these insights into supply chain design for TBL sustainability has not been studied. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to move the theory of supply chain forward into the sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) research agenda. Toward that purpose, the paper analyzes the sustainable supply chain design (SSCD) at social businesses, incorporating the physical chain and the information and financial support chains. Four social businesses located in Haiti are used as cases of innovative supply chain structures for TBL sustainability. By analyzing the supply chain structures and boundaries of these social businesses, three supply chain configurations combining physical and support chains are presented.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Logistics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)57-79
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Sustainability
  • Environmental issues
  • Ethics
  • Social responsibility
  • Supply chain management
  • Triple bottom line
  • Case–study research

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