Managing Information Processing Needs in Global Supply Chains: A Prerequisite to Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Journal of Supply Chain Management, Vol. 53, No. 1

48 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2016

See all articles by Christian Busse

Christian Busse

Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Jan Meinlschmidt

Smart.Production:Lab

Kai Foerstl

German Graduate School of Management and Law

Date Written: September 12, 2016

Abstract

Sustainability is an important topic in supply chain management research and practice. For buying firms, one of the most pressing challenges associated with sustainable supply chain management is that they frequently do not possess sufficient information on what is occurring in their complex supply chains, as demonstrated by numerous incidents lacking sustainability. Using eight in-depth case studies across four industries and elaborating on information processing theory, we identify three forms of sustainability-related uncertainty that each firm is facing in its supply chain. We refer to them as task uncertainty, source uncertainty, and supply chain uncertainty. The study shows that the extent to which these uncertainties translate into information processing needs depends on a newly identified boundary condition labelled uncertainty intolerance. With respect to the management of such information processing needs, prior research has pointed primarily at matching information processing needs with fitting information processing capacity and secondly at mitigating information processing needs with corrective measures. This study illuminates how some innovative firms occasionally employ a more radical sustainability-driven supply chain modification mechanism. In doing so, this research exemplifies how sustainable supply chain management may eventually turn from an amendment to a firm’s daily business to a decisive factor for shaping future supply chains. In addition, the study constitutes a nascent step to elevate information processing theory to the supply chain level.

Keywords: sustainable supply chain management, information processing theory, uncertainty, true sustainability, radical innovation

JEL Classification: M11, M14, M16

Suggested Citation

Busse, Christian and Meinlschmidt, Jan and Foerstl, Kai, Managing Information Processing Needs in Global Supply Chains: A Prerequisite to Sustainable Supply Chain Management (September 12, 2016). Journal of Supply Chain Management, Vol. 53, No. 1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2838110

Christian Busse (Contact Author)

Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg ( email )

Ammerländer Heerstr. 114-118
Oldenburg, D-26129
Germany

Jan Meinlschmidt

Smart.Production:Lab ( email )

Volkswagen AG Berliner Ring 2
Wolfsburg, Berlin 38440
Germany

Kai Foerstl

German Graduate School of Management and Law ( email )

Bildungscampus 2
Heilbronn, 74076
Germany

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