Dimensions of sustainable value chains: implications for value chain analysis

Fearne, Andrew, Martinez, Marian Garcia and Dent, Benjamin (2012) Dimensions of sustainable value chains: implications for value chain analysis. Supply Chain Management-An International Journal, 17 6: 575-581. doi:10.1108/13598541211269193


Author Fearne, Andrew
Martinez, Marian Garcia
Dent, Benjamin
Title Dimensions of sustainable value chains: implications for value chain analysis
Journal name Supply Chain Management-An International Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1359-8546
1758-6852
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1108/13598541211269193
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 17
Issue 6
Start page 575
End page 581
Total pages 7
Place of publication W Yorks, United Kingdom
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Language eng
Subject 1408 Strategy and Management
Abstract Value chain analysis (VCA) can expose strategic and operational misalignments within chains, and the consequential misallocation of resources, and hence opportunities for improvements which create value and economic sustainability. This paper's purpose is to argue why and how VCA needs to integrate the social and environmental aspects of sustainability in pursuit of sustainable competitive advantage. Based on a review of existing methods and case studies, the paper proposes three dimensions of VCA, which illustrate the flaws in narrow tools, and the need to broaden the boundaries of VCA, the interpretation of “value” and relationships along the chain in order to highlight opportunities for creating sustainable value chains. To date VCA has largely focused on economic sustainability and paid inadequate attention to social and environment consequences of firm behaviour and the (re) allocation of resources within and between firms in the chain. This risks producing recommendations which either ignore the competitive advantage offered from improving environmental management and social welfare, or have such detrimental external consequences as to render any proposals unsustainable when exposed to government or broader (public) scrutiny. VCA variants need to be developed which incorporate all three pillars of sustainability. Some initial experiences are presented and ideas for future research and applications proposed. The development of sustainable VCA tools should identify business opportunities consistent with Porter and Kramer's imperative for value chains to create shared value between business and society. Adopting the broader dimensions identified will allow VCA to become more widely applicable, and more relevant in business scenarios where there is a growing imperative to include social and environmental impacts into “mainstream” business strategies.
Formatted abstract
Purpose – Value chain analysis (VCA) can expose strategic and operational misalignments within chains, and the consequential misallocation of resources, and hence opportunities for improvements which create value and economic sustainability. This paper's purpose is to argue why and how VCA needs to integrate the social and environmental aspects of sustainability in pursuit of sustainable competitive advantage.

Design/methodology/approach – Based on a review of existing methods and case studies, the paper proposes three dimensions of VCA, which illustrate the flaws in narrow tools, and the need to broaden the boundaries of VCA, the interpretation of “value” and relationships along the chain in order to highlight opportunities for creating sustainable value chains.

Findings – To date VCA has largely focused on economic sustainability and paid inadequate attention to social and environment consequences of firm behaviour and the (re) allocation of resources within and between firms in the chain. This risks producing recommendations which either ignore the competitive advantage offered from improving environmental management and social welfare, or have such detrimental external consequences as to render any proposals unsustainable when exposed to government or broader (public) scrutiny.

Research limitations/implications
– VCA variants need to be developed which incorporate all three pillars of sustainability. Some initial experiences are presented and ideas for future research and applications proposed.

Practical implications
– The development of sustainable VCA tools should identify business opportunities consistent with Porter and Kramer's imperative for value chains to create shared value between business and society.

Originality/value – Adopting the broader dimensions identified will allow VCA to become more widely applicable, and more relevant in business scenarios where there is a growing imperative to include social and environmental impacts into “mainstream” business strategies.
Keyword Value chain analysis
Sustainability
Shared value
Social and environmental sustainability
Value chain
Corporate strategy
Economic sustainability
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Official 2013 Collection
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 26 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 35 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 23 Dec 2012, 10:54:24 EST by System User on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences