Integrating sustainability into supplier selection: A grey-based topsis analysis

Chunguang Bai*, Joseph Sarkis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainable supplier selection plays an important role in sustainable supply chain management operations and implementation. In this paper a novel formal modeling approach is conceptually developed and presented to address sustainable supplier selection. Grey theory and TOPSIS, a distance based multiple criteria method, are used for the integration and evaluation of sustainable supplier performance for sustainable supplier selection. From a research perspective, TOPSIS is improved to more effectively deal with grey numbers by integrating a degree of likelihood rather than converting grey numbers into crisp numbers functions, and it provides more flexible supplier rankings. This methodology strengthens the sustainable supplier selection process, and can be applied to other multiple criteria decision making problems. Illustrative calculations are made using data on sustainable supplier selection and evaluation published by Bai and Sarkis (2010). The technique is relatively accurate, matching well with results from a published grey rough set approach. The methodology easily implementable with minimal complex calculations required. It can also provide support for sustainable supplier selection, benchmarking, and improvement decisions. This is one of the first papers to integrate a broad set of sustainability factors for grey-based TOPSIS and supplier selection.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalTechnological and Economic Development of Economy
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2202-2224
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 21.11.2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Supply chain management
  • Multiple criteria evaluation
  • Supplier selection
  • Performance evaluation
  • Grey set theory


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