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  Sustainable supply chain management practices and dynamiccapabilities in the food industry: A critical analysis of the literature Philip Beske a,1 , Anna Land b,2 , Stefan Seuring b, n a Department of International Management, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany b Chair for Supply Chain Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Received 28 December 2012Accepted 20 December 2013Available online 27 December 2013 Keywords: Sustainable Supply Chain ManagementDynamic CapabilitiesFood industryLiterature review a b s t r a c t Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) and Dynamic Capabilities (DCs) are both relatively youngresearch  󿬁 elds examining dynamically changing corporate environments and industries. The foodindustry is an example of such a dynamic environment. Customers have high expectations for foodsafety and a growing demand for sustainably produced food. Companies ful 󿬁 lling these demands target acustomer base with high awareness of all three dimensions of sustainability, i.e., the economical,ecological, and social, circumstances inwhich food is produced and offered. This paper aims at describinghow SSCM practices allow companies to maintain control over their supply chain and achieve acompetitive advantage with the implementation of dynamic capabilities. Previously identi 󿬁 ed practicesin SSCM are related to DC theory by identifying them as basic routines that form speci 󿬁 c DCs. Weconduct a literature review, including content analysis, examining publications (52 articles) onsustainable food supply chains published in English, peer-reviewed journals. We form the link betweenSSCM and DCs by integrating them intothe same conceptual context. Speci 󿬁 c DCs in the supplychain of asustainability-oriented industry are also identi 󿬁 ed, such as knowledge sharing and re-conceptualizingthe supply chain. Thereafter, we scrutinize the food industry according to SSCM and DC criteria and offerinsights into the strategies used in that business market. The results show that sustainability practicesand DCs in the supply chain are used among others to enhance traceability and tracking and to ful 󿬁 llcustomer demands. Further research is needed to extend the operationalization of the existingconceptual frameworks. &  2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a broad topic and has beenexamined by researchers from different angles in the last years.One prominent research  󿬁 eld is sustainability in SCM, namelySustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM). Both research andpractical implementation have been growing steadily in the lastdecade in this speci 󿬁 c area (Seuring and Müller, 2008a; Carter andEaston, 2011; Ahi and Searcy, 2013). Among others SSCM allowscompanies to implement corporate responsibility practices andachieve a higher ef  󿬁 ciency in logistics performance and resourceusage (e.g., Gold et al., 2010; Carter and Easton, 2011) whilepursuing the three dimensions of sustainability, i.e., economic,social and environment goals. One driver for such corporate actionis constant changes in supply chain con 󿬁 gurations, which haveraised concerns about how and whether this could contribute tosustainability (Halldorsson et al., 2009) and demanding strategicactions being taken. This offers a link into another young  󿬁 eld of management research, i.e., the dynamic capabilities approach.They were  󿬁 rst introduced by Teece and Pisano (1994) to explain 󿬁 rm performance in dynamic business environments, focusing onthe capabilities that  󿬁 rms employ to reach a competitive advan-tage. A  󿬁 rst conceptual linkage between the two domains of research has beenpresented in the paper by Beske (2012); however,this remains at the conceptual level and lacks (any) empiricalresearch. Both theories aim to explain the achievement of acompetitive advantage in dynamic business environments. For ourstudy we choose the food industry which ful 󿬁 lls the requirementsfor such a dynamic business environment (van der Vorst andBeulens, 2002). First, it is under constant scrutiny of the publicattention (Faerne et al., 2001; Manning et al., 2006). Food safety is aconcern of almost every consumer, and governments are closelyobserving practices and products of companies in the food industry.Secondly, environmental issues like deforestation or social pro-blems, e.g., in the form of fair wages for farmers, are reportedfrequently by governmental agencies or Non-GovernmentalContents lists available at ScienceDirect journal homepage: Int. J. Production Economics 0925-5273/$-see front matter  &  2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. n Corresponding author. Tel.:  þ 49 561 8047415. E-mail addresses: (P. Beske), (A. Land), (S. Seuring). 1 Tel.  þ 49 561 804 1223. 2 Tel.  þ 49 561 804 7253.Int. J. Production Economics 152 (2014) 131 – 143  Organizations (NGOs) (e.g., Hassini et al., 2012). This forms anotherlink to SSCM since several companies are trying to counter theseproblems by adopting sustainable SCM practices (Maloni andBrown, 2006; Wiengarten and Pagell, 2012). Markets that targetcustomers with high awareness of all three dimensions of sustain-ability like the sustainable food industry are exposed to dynamicchanges in customer perceptions and expectations. In such markets,both strategic management theories, SSCM and DCs, can helpcompanies in reaching a high performance.The objective of the paper is to assess SSCM practices and theirinterlinks to DCs in the food industry. While this has already beenargued for on a theoretical basis (Beske, 2012), we extend theobjective and provide an empirical validation based on a systema-tic assessment of peer-reviewed papers on SSCM in the foodindustry. We hereby aim to integrate the theories of SSCM andDynamic Capabilities with the example of the food industry, whichhas rarely been done for SSCM and to our best knowledge onlyonce for DC theory (Marcus and Anderson, 2006).The paper is structured as follows: a brief introduction coversthe basic terminology of SCM, sustainability, SSCM, and DC theory.In the same section, an overview of food supply chain manage-ment and related sustainability issues is given. The next chapterintroduces the research method and selected papers for thereview. Next, the underlying frameworks for SSCM practices andDCs in SSCM are described. In the results section, insights intoactual SSCM practices and DCs in the sustainable food industry arerevealed. The discussion highlights the contribution of the paper,while the conclusion summarizes the  󿬁 ndings of the paper. 2. Literature review and conceptual framework   2.1. SSCM practices According to the de 󿬁 nition given by Seuring and Müller(2008a), SSCM can be de 󿬁 ned as  “ the management of material,information and capital  󿬂 ows as well as cooperation amongcompanies along the supply chain while taking goals from allthree dimensions of sustainable development, i.e., economic,environmental and social, into account which are derived fromcustomer and stakeholder requirements. ”  Several points stand outin this de 󿬁 nition. First of all, it speci 󿬁 cally calls for cooperation of the partners in the chain. This is in line with other researcherswho put an emphasis on strengthened relationships in SSCM (e.g.,Sharfman et al., 2009). Furthermore, the equal consideration of allthree dimensions of sustainability is suggested, something thatElkington (1997) has termed as the Triple Bottom Line (TBL)approach (Gimenez et al., 2012). Finally, the de 󿬁 nition drawsspecial attention to the stakeholders of a supply chain, whichhave to be recognized as having legitimate requirements to thesupply chains 0 activities (Müller et al., 2009a). This not onlyincludes the customers, but also NGOs, suppliers or legal autho-rities (Emmehainz and Adams, 1999; Seuring and Müller, 2008a).In addition to this, we separate the stakeholders into two groupsdepending on their actual power to harm or support the organiza-tion (Madsen and Ulhøi, 2001; Buysse and Verbeke, 2003). Sincethe resources to engage stakeholders are limited, organizationsusually concentrate more on those stakeholders that actually canexert a certain amount of pressure (Polonsky and Scott, 2005).Accordingly, we termed these pressure groups. At the same time,especially for companies following a sustainability strategy, themajority of stakeholders need to be taken into account as well;therefore, we include them in the framework as more generalizedstakeholder groups.This leads to the question of which practices are commonlyapplied in SSCM, which is a widely discussed topic in relatedliterature (Zhu and Sarkis, 2004). While we introduce overarchingcategories and the single practices only brie 󿬂 y, we would arguethat they form a sound conceptualization against the body of literature enfolded in SSCM (see e.g., the reviews in Seuring andMüller, 2008a; Gold et al., 2010; Carter and Easton, 2011) coveringstrategic as well as operations aspects. The single categories andpractices are discriminant to each other, each describing a differ-ent aspect of SSCM. Furthermore, all points taken together outlineaspects that can be used for comprehending SSCM, therebyful 󿬁 lling the criteria of completeness that such a frameworkshould offer (Wacker, 1998). In the following, the categories inwhich SSCM practice s can be structured are introduced. Weconcentrate here on those practices that are relevant for ourconceptualization of sustainable supply chain management andfocus on practices that e.g., enhance relationships between thepartners, the  󿬂 ow of goods and information or issues of sustain-ability, taken from the aforementioned de 󿬁 nitions or SCM andSSCM conceptualizations. Of course, a comprehensive list wouldhave to include aspects of SCM, such as benchmarking or  󿬁 nancialperformance measurement.   Strategic orientation:  The  󿬁 rst category encompasses the stra-tegic orientation of a company. Here the company 0 s strategicvalues are addressed. Companies following a sustainabilitystrategy are usually guided by the Triple Bottom Line (TBL)(Dyllick and Hockerts, 2002; Nikolaou et al., 2011; Gimenez et al., 2012), i.e., placing equal importance on all three dimen-sions of sustainability for their decision making. Furthermore,including the supply chain, i.e., a SCM orientation, in alldecisions, even those not directly affecting the supply chain,is important for successful management of the supply chain(Seuring and Müller, 2008a; Pagell and Wu, 2009). This secondpart is a strong link to  ‘ conventional ’  supply chain thinking as itis seen as one of the underpinning aspects of SCM.   Continuity:  The second category of the framework is concernedwith the structure of the supply network. This concerns theway the SC partners interact on a permanent level. Conse-quently, practices used to build long-term relationships, thedevelopment of SC partners, and the selection of quali 󿬁 edpartners are found here (Pagell and Wu, 2009; Gold et al.,2010). These practices are summed up under the category of continuity, the successful long-term competitiveness of thesupply chain (Ziggers and Trienekens, 1999; Ashby et al.,2012; Miemczyk et al., 2012).   Collaboration:  Collaboration links structural aspects to busi-nesses processes (Vlajic et al., 2012). On the one hand, struc-tural decisions regarding how to technically and logisticallyintegrate the partners in the supply chain and the quality of shared information are made (Vachon and Klassen, 2008). Jointdevelopment aims to collaboratively develop new technologies,processes, and products. On the other hand, the more opera-tional organization can be linked to the  processes  level of SSCM.Sustainable supply chains face high risks due to high pressuregroup demands or a relatively small supplier base and therelated disruption risk (Walker et al., 2008; Seuring and Müller,2008b).   Risk management:  This leads companies to the adoption of various practices of risk management to mitigate these risks(Seuring and Müller, 2008a; Holt and Ghobadian, 2009).Individual monitoring of speci 󿬁 c suppliers is a practice whichcan be observed in SSCM. Often own auditors or companyemployees are sent out to individual partners to identify theirneeds and progress towards speci 󿬁 c goals (Koplin et al., 2007).Standards and certi 󿬁 cations are usually more generalized, likethe ISO 14001 or EMAS, and target a broad range of companies.At the same time, they can be handled by third-party auditors P. Beske et al. / Int. J. Production Economics 152 (2014) 131 – 143 132  and retain high credibility (Müller et al., 2009b). Pressuregroups engage in activities that can have a destabilizing impacton a company and can actually harm the reputation orperformance (Klassen and Vereecke, 2012). In terms of stake-holder management they would not only have to be monitoredbut actively engaged and managed (Seuring and Müller,2008b). By adopting speci 󿬁 c business practices, companiesrespond to these pressures.   Pro-activity (for sustainability):  The wider set of stakeholders isfound in the pro-activity category of SSCM. By actively enga-ging stakeholders like consumers, companies are able tocounter further pressure and bene 󿬁 t from stakeholder knowl-edge (Pagell and Wu, 2009). Learning, e.g., from partners andother sources, is another important practice. Furthermore, thepro-activity regard of a product 0 s life cycle already in thedevelopment stages and throughout the whole life cycle isimportant when pursuing a sustainability strategy (Seuring,2011). Finally, the general ability to be innovative as a companyis necessary in the dynamic environments of sustainablemarkets. Innovation has been discussed as being especiallyimportant for sustainable supply chains (Klassen and Vereecke,2012).The arguments given in this section can only summarize someof the core points. Table 1 summarizes the SSCM categories andpractices as just outlined. These practices will be linked todynamic capabilities as the core theoretical contribution of thispaper, extending previous research. Therefore, it is necessary tointroduce dynamic capabilities and related supply chain research.  2.2. Dynamic capabilities Dynamic Capabilities were  󿬁 rst put forward by Teece et al.(1997) to explain competitive advantage and performance on highvelocity and dynamically changing markets (see also Eisenhardtand Martin, 2000; Easterby-Smith et al., 2009). Helfat et al. (2007)de 󿬁 ne Dynamic Capabilities as  “ the capacity of an organization topurposefully create, extend, or modify its resource base ”  and assuch to reach a higher economic value than their competitors. Theeconomic value is linked to the bene 󿬁 ts for the customer (Peteraf and Barney, 2003) and thus is not limited to economic perfor-mance but can be gained in other performance areas as well, in thecase of SSCM within the other two dimensions of sustainability.Eisenhardt and Martin (2000) state that DCs are the  “ [ … ]  󿬁 rm 0 sprocesses that use resources  –  speci 󿬁 cally the processes tointegrate, recon 󿬁 gure, gain and release resources  –  to match andeven create market change. Dynamic capabilities thus are theorganizational and strategic routines by which  󿬁 rms achieve newresource con 󿬁 gurations [ … ]. ”  As such, DCs can be understood asbundles of capabilities and not only single processes.Following the de 󿬁 nitions of  Helfat et al. (2007) for a dynamiccapability, the proposed practices of the SSCM form the basis forthe dynamic capabilities as the capacities to recon 󿬁 gure theresource base, and they are the bundles of practices that makeup speci 󿬁 c DCs (see Fig. 1).Often DCs are discussed as  󿬁 rm-centered capabilities toenhance the performance of one single company (Ambrosini andBowman, 2009; Easterby-Smith et al., 2009). So far only fewresearchers have linked the dynamic capabilities approach withSCM. Defee and Fugate (2010) present a framework for  Dynamic   Table 1 SSCM practices. SSCM Practices AcronymOrientation Supply chain management SCMTriple bottom line TBL  Supply chain continuity  Long-term relationships LTR Partner development PDPartner selection SEL  Collaboration  Joint development JDTechnical integration TILogistical integration LIEnhanced communication EC Risk management Individual monitoring IMPressure group management PRGStandards and certi 󿬁 cation CER  Pro-activity  Learning LEAStakeholder management STMInnovation INNLife cycle assessment LCA Fig. 1.  Dynamic Capabilities in SSCM (based on Beske, 2012, p. 380). P. Beske et al. / Int. J. Production Economics 152 (2014) 131 – 143  133  Supply Chain Capabilities , which should be implemented in supplychains. Foerstl et al. (2010) focus on the managing of supplierswithin dynamically changing environments to reach corporatesocial responsibility goals. Zhu et al. (2012) concentrate on thepath-dependent development of environmental capabilities andthe effect of learning and experience. Our work is based on aframework that integrates SSCM and DCs, presented in Fig. 1.Beske (2012) shows the overlapping applicability of SSCM and DCtheories. Both strategic management theories aim to explain theachievement of a competitive advantage on globalized, often non-transparent markets, where customer demands are dynamicallychanging (Beske, 2012). Performance measurement is not limitedto  󿬁 nancial indicators but indicators derived from customerwishes and perception (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000).The framework introduces  󿬁 ve categories of dynamic capabilitieswhich take these assumptions into account. These categories areelaborated in the subsequent literature review (for a list of the DCs,see also Table 2 in the  󿬁 ndings section), where the prevalence of theunderlying theoretical categories in the existing literature is assessed.   Supply Chain Re-Conceptualization:  New partners not necessa-rily directly involved with the business of the SC are integratedinto the SC. New partners could be local communities or NGOs(Pagell and Wu, 2009), such as Fairfood (Dutch NGO) orActionAid (based in the UK), which can provide speci 󿬁 c localknowledge and contacts (Müller et al., 2009a).   Partner Development:  This category summarizes necessary cap-abilities for developing the partners to be able to ful 󿬁 ll theirrespective purposes in the SC or even to be able to follow asustainability strategy at all (Seuring and Müller, 2008a).   Knowledge Management:  All practices that deal with the acqui-sition of new and the assessment of current knowledge of thepartners in the SC are included in this category. Such assess-ment can be viewed as the capability that enables the under-standing of knowledge possessed by supply chain partners(Defee and Fugate, 2010).   Co-Evolving:  This refers to the adoption of capabilities  “ bywhich managers reconnect webs of collaborations [ … ] togenerate new and synergistic resource combinations amongbusinesses ”  (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000). Furthermore, thedevelopment and implementation of new capabilities is sum-marized here to enhance the overall performance of partners inthe chain (Pagell and Wu, 2009).   Re  󿬂 exive Control:  Here, those capabilities and resources aregrouped that allow a company to constantly check and evaluatetheir business practices and strategy against the requirementsof the business environment to maintain its functionality(Seuring, 2006). Applying one or more of such DCs can leadto a temporary competitive advantage (Eisenhardt and Martin,2000) which in turn may lead to a sustained competitiveadvantage (Helfat et al., 2007; Teece, 2007). Furthermore,new capabilities might arise that can in 󿬂 uence the competi-tiveness of a company or SC.  2.3. The food industry as a  󿬁 eld of application The food industry is a very dynamic industry with constantchanges in customer demands (van der Vorst and Beulens, 2002;Wiengarten et al., 2011; Trienekens et al., 2012). This calls for the ability to quickly adapt strategies and recon 󿬁 gure resources,exactly the requirements for which the DC concept has beenposited (Teece et al., 1997; Barreto, 2010; Foerstl et al., 2010; Zhuet al., 2012). In the modern food industry, processes have becomeindustrialized, characterized by mass production. Furthermore,production,  󿬁 nancing, and marketing have become internationallyintegrated to form global food supplychains (Manning et al., 2005;Roth et al., 2007; Trienekens et al., 2012). Such food supply chains can be de 󿬁 ned as  “ a set of interdependent companies that workclosely together to manage the  󿬂 ow of goods and services alongthe value-added chain of agricultural and food products, in orderto realize superior customer value at the lowest possible costs ” (Folkerts and Koehorst, 1998). Globalization along with changingmarketing techniques, consumption trends, and modern technol-ogy has simultaneously raised concerns in regards to the economy,society, and the environment (Yakovleva, 2008; Zanoni and Zavanella, 2012). At the same time, safety and quality is of utmostimportance in the food industry, which makes controlling theentire supply chain (Manning et al., 2005), quality assurance(Manning et al., 2006; Brown et al., 2002), and enhanced trackingand tracing practices a special issue in this business (e.g., Wanget al., 2009). A further practice discussed in this respect is the needfor collaboration (Matopulos et al., 2007) and coordination alsooften emphasized for the food industry (Ziggers and Trienekens,1999). Hence, consumers are becoming more concerned with theproducts they consume, including their srcin, the inputs usedduring production, the labor standards implemented, e.g., byfarmers and food corporations, the treatment of animals, and theenvironmental impact of production (Trienekens et al., 2012; Cross et al., 2009). Therefore the sustainability, i.e., the ecological, socialand, economic impacts of the food industry have been underscrutiny of the public for some time. Especially organic food andfair trade initiatives are of importance in this regard. Our study didnot exclusively target these but through the keyword choiceincludes a large body of articles focusing on such speci 󿬁 c foodsupply chains which seems appropriate when researching SSCM.The relevance of food to all people, the industry dynamics, and theaforementioned consumer demands qualify this industry as astrong focus of research when integrating dynamic capabilitiesinto SSCM. 3. Research method As the topic is quite abstract, the methodological choices werelimited. A single or few case studies would have their limitations  Table 2 Description of DCs. Dynamic capability AcronymKnowledge assessment Knowledge sharing KSCommon IT system CITLicensing LICKnowledge acquisition and evaluation KAC Partner development Knowledge sharing (development) KSDPartner development programs PDPImproving overall performance IOPPartner training PT SC Re-conceptualization Inclusion of NGOs NGOInclusion of neighbors, communities, policy makers NCP Co-evolving   Joint development of products JDP Joint development of processes JPR Regular meetings RMPartner-based synergies PBS Re 󿬂 exive control Transparency TRAInformation sharing for monitoring ISMQualitative partner control/auditing QPM P. Beske et al. / Int. J. Production Economics 152 (2014) 131 – 143 134


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