Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 425–442 | Cite as

Detecting Supply Chain Innovation Potential for Sustainable Development

  • Raine Isaksson
  • Peter Johansson
  • Klaus Fischer


In a world of limited resources, it could be argued that companies that aspire to be good corporate citizens need to focus on making best use of resources. User value and environmental harm are created in supply chains and it could therefore be argued that company business ethics should be extended from the company to the entire value chain from the first supplier to the last customer. Starting with a delineation of the linkages between business ethics, corporate sustainability, and the stakeholder concept, this article argues that supply chains generally have a great innovation potential for sustainable development. This potential could be highlighted with system thinking and the use of change management knowledge, promoting not only innovations within technology but also within organizational improvement. We propose process models and performance indicators as means of highlighting improvement potential and thus breaking down normative business ethics’ requirements to an opertionalizable corporate level: Good business ethics should focus on maximizing stakeholder value in relation to harm done. Our results indicate that focusing on supply chains reveals previously unknown innovation potential that seems to be related to limited system understanding. The assumption is that increased visibility of opportunities will act as a driver for change. Results also highlight the importance of focusing on sustainability effects of the core business and clearly relating value created to harm done.


measurement system supply chain sustainability indicators 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beer, S. (1985): Diagnosing the system for organizations. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  2. Beer, S. (1995): Brain of the firm. 2nd Ed. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  3. Böhnisch, W. (1975). “Personale Innovationswiderstände”. In: Gaugler, E. (Ed.): Handwörterbuch des Personalwesens: 1046–1061. Stuttgart: Poeschel.Google Scholar
  4. DanWatch: 2008, ‘Bad Connections – How Your Mobile Phone is Linked to Abuse, Fraud and Unfair Mining Practices in DR Congo’,
  5. Ericsson: 2007, ‘Sustainable Energy Use in Mobile Communications’. EAB-07:021801 Uen Rev C.
  6. Foley, K.J. (2005). Meta-management: a stakeholder/quality management approach to whole-of-enterprise management. SAI Global, Sydney.Google Scholar
  7. Garvare, R. and P. Johansson: 2009, ‘Management for Sustainability – A Stakeholder Theory’, TQM & Business Excellence Journal (accepted).Google Scholar
  8. Greenpeace: 2008, ‘How the Companies Line Up’, 05-03-2009.
  9. Hall, G., B. Rosenthal and J. Wade: 1993, ‘How to Make Reengineering Really Work’, Harvard Business Review, Nov–Dec, 119–131.Google Scholar
  10. Imada (2008). “Achieving Sustainability through Macroergonomic Change Management and Participation”. In K. J. Zink (Ed.): Corporate Sustainability as a Challenge for Comprehensive Management: 129–138. Heidelberg: Physica.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Isaksson, R. (2005). Economic sustainability and the Cost of Poor Quality. Corporate Social Responsibility & Environmental Management, 12, 197-205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Isaksson, R. and N. Taylor: 2006, The Process Improve- ment Program. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Quality Management and Organizational Development, 9th–11th August 2006, Liverpool.Google Scholar
  13. Isaksson, R.: 2007, Product Quality and Sustainability in the Cement Industry. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Cement Chemistry, Montreal, Canada, 8–13 July.Google Scholar
  14. Isaksson, R., J. Hallencreutz and R. Garvare: 2008, ‘Process Management and System-Thinking for Sustainable Development’, in K. J. Foley et al. (eds.), The Theories and Practises of Organization Excellence: New Perspectives, Chap. 8 (Consensus Books, Sydney), pp. 205–232.Google Scholar
  15. Isaksson, R. and N. Taylor: 2009, Drivers for Sustainability – Making Better Use of Cement in Dar es Salaam. Proceedings of the 12th QMOD Conference, Verona, Italy.Google Scholar
  16. Isaksson, R. & Hallencreutz, J. (2008). The Measurement System Resource as Support for Sustainable Change. The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture & Change Management, 8 (1), 265-274.Google Scholar
  17. Isaksson, R. & Steimle, U. (2009). What does GRI-reporting tell us about corporate sustainability? The TQM Journal, 21 (2), 168-181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Malik, F. (2008). Strategie des Managements komplexer Systeme: ein Beitrag zur Management-Kybernetik evolutionärer Systeme. 10th Ed. Bern, Stuttgart, Wien: Haupt.Google Scholar
  19. Prahalad, C. K.(2006). The Fortune at the Bottom of the PyramidEradicating Poverty Through Profits. Wharton School Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Probst, G. J. B. (1981). Kybernetische Gesetzeshypothesen als Basis für Gestaltungs- und Lenkungsregeln im Management. Bern, Stuttgart, Wien: Haupt.Google Scholar
  21. Rentzhog, O. (1996). Core Process Management. Linköping University, Division of Quality Technology, Linköping.Google Scholar
  22. Skjott-Larsen. T. & Schary, P.B. & Mikkola, J.H. & Kotzab, H. (2007). Managing the Global Supply Chain 3rd Ed. Liber, Copenhagen Business School Press.Google Scholar
  23. SOMO: 2006, The High Cost of Calling – Critical Issues in the Mobile Phone Industry (SOMO, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, Amsterdam).Google Scholar
  24. SOMO and Swedewatch: 2008, ‘Silenced to Deliver – Mobile Phone Manufacturing in China and the Philippines’.Google Scholar
  25. Suchanek, A.: 2008, Business Ethics and the Golden Rule. Discussion Paper of the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics (2008-3).Google Scholar
  26. WBCSD: 2000, ‘Eco-Efficiency, Creating more Value with Less Impact’,
  27. WBCSD: 2004.
  28. WBCSD: 2008, ‘Energy Efficiency in Buildings’,
  29. WCED (1987). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Wilms, F. E. P. (2003). Systemorientiertes Management. Vahlen: München.Google Scholar
  31. Zink, K.J., Steimle, U. und Fischer, K. (2008). “Human Factors, Business Excellence and Corporate Sustainability: Differing Perspectives, Joint Objectives”. In: Zink, K. J. (Ed.): Corporate Sustainability as a Challenge for Comprehensive Management: 3–15. Heidelberg: Physica.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raine Isaksson
    • 1
  • Peter Johansson
    • 1
  • Klaus Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Gotland UniversityVisbySweden

Personalised recommendations