Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 119, Issue 3, pp 317-328

First online:

The Relationship Between Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Stakeholder Pressure and Corporate Sustainability Performance

  • Julia WolfAffiliated withDepartment of Strategy, Organization & Leadership, EBS University of Business and Law Email author 

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In 2009, Greenpeace launched an aggressive campaign against Nestlé, accusing the organization of driving rainforest deforestation through its palm oil suppliers. The objective was to damage the brand image of Nestlé and, thereby, force the organization to make its supply chain more sustainable. Prominent cases such as these have led to the prevailing view that sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is primarily reactive and propelled by external pressures. This research, in contrast, assumes that SSCM can contribute positively to the reputation of an organization as a “good citizen” and, thereby, counter the impression that external stakeholder pressure is the only driver of SSCM. The study draws on Resource Dependence Theory in analyzing the three competing models of the potential stakeholder, SSCM and the corporate sustainability performance relationship. A dataset of 1,621 organizations allows the statistical comparison of these three models. Findings suggest that stakeholder pressure and SSCM both contribute to an organization’s sustainability performance. Thus, supply chain managers will perceive benefits from SSCM other than merely the reduction of risk from reputational damage through stakeholder activism.


Corporate sustainability performance Stakeholder pressure Sustainable development Supply chain management Regression