Multiple multi-tier sustainable supply chain management: a social systems theory perspective

Gong, Yu, Jiang, Yan ORCID logoORCID: and Jia, Fu (2021) Multiple multi-tier sustainable supply chain management: a social systems theory perspective. International Journal of Production Research . ISSN 0020-7543 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1080/00207543.2021.1930238)

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A multi-tier supply chain is a complex system as it covers a focal company and multiple tiers of suppliers in a complex supply chain network. This study explores the complexity in multi-tier sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) through a social systems theory perspective. We carried out a case study on IKEA China’s sustainable cotton initiative and examined its five cotton-textile supply chains. The primary data were collected through 22 semi-structured interviews with managers of IKEA China and their multi-tier suppliers. The findings suggest that in order to cope with environmental complexity in implementing multi-tier sustainable initiatives, focal companies tend to create both internal complexity and collaborative complexity in a variety of governance mechanisms. In addition, environmental overlap and available collaborative complexity increase in this process and can feed back into systems to facilitate further creation of requisite variety. We contribute to the multi-tier SSCM literature through providing an in-depth understanding of nuanced mechanisms of managing different tiers of suppliers to cope with complexities by adopting a social systems theory perspective. We also contribute to multi-tier supply chain governance mechanisms from an evolution perspective.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > International Management and Innovation > Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics group
Item ID: 33347
Notes on copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way
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Depositing User: Yan Jiang
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2021 12:20
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2021 16:14

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