Framing sustainability performance of supply chains with multidimensional indicators

Mohsen Varsei, Claudine Soosay*, Behnam Fahimnia, Joseph Sarkis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

263 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper aims to provide a framework which can assist focal companies in the development of sustainable supply chains. Sustainable development from an industrial perspective has extended beyond organisational boundaries to incorporate a supply chain approach.

Design/methodology/approach – The literature related to sustainable supply chain management is reviewed by incorporating concepts from four organisational theories, including the resource-based, institutional, stakeholder and social network perspectives, to illustrate key drivers and enablers of sustainability initiatives in the supply chain. A conceptual multidimensional framework is then developed that can be used for the initial assessment of supply chain sustainability.

Findings – Development and assessment of sustainability in supply chains are being increasingly incorporated as part of supply chain management today. This paper presents a multidimensional framework which can serve as a tool for research scholars and supply chain practitioners in identifying and assessing various economic, environmental and social performance indicators.

Research limitations/implications – The framework and approach presented are conceptual, and require additional and broader validation. Additional theories, at differing levels, such as individual behaviour theory, should be utilised to further enhance and evaluate the framework. Developing and integrating analytical models for prescriptive and practical supply chain solutions can enhance the applicability of the framework.

Practical implications – The framework adopts a multidimensional approach to assessing and designing sustainable supply chains, as it not only incorporates economic and environmental dimensions but also provides a practical approach to quantifying and embedding the social dimension into decision-making. The framework helps industry practitioners in initial exploration of trade-offs among economic, environmental and social performance of supply chains, which, in turn, could assist them in creating a business case for sustainability.

Originality/value – The paper is one of few studies that incorporates some of the key aspects of all three dimensions of sustainability in a single overarching framework for supply chains and offers significant theoretical contribution and implications for sustainable supply chain management.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalSupply chain management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)242-257
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 06.05.2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Performance measurement
  • Supply chain management
  • Multidimensional framework
  • Supply chain design
  • Supply chain sustainability performance
  • Sustainability assessment


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