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Sustainable Supply Chains: Governance Mechanisms to Greening Suppliers


One of the key challenges for firms is to manage sustainability along the supply chain. To extend sustainability to suppliers, organizations have developed different governance mechanisms. The aim of this paper is to analyze the effectiveness of two different mechanisms (i.e., supplier assessment and collaboration with suppliers) to improve one dimension of sustainability: environmental performance. Structural Equation Modeling and cluster analysis were used to analyze the relationships between supplier assessment, collaboration with suppliers, and environmental performance. The results suggest that (1) both mechanisms, supplier assessment and collaboration with suppliers, have a positive and synergistic effect on environmental performance, and (2) assessment acts as an enabler of collaboration. Finally, the paper also contributes to the literature by providing a framework of sustainability governance mechanisms.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the significant contributions of the reviewers and the financial support from research grant ECO2010-16840 from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. The authors also thank Prof. Rudolf Large for allowing them to use the data collected in Germany.

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Correspondence to Cristina Gimenez.




Construct No. Item Phrase Sources
Supplier assessment AS1 Evaluation We assess our suppliers’ performance through formal evaluation, using established guidelines and procedures Krause et al. (2000)
AS2 Feedback We provide suppliers with feedback about results of their evaluation
AS3 Audits We perform environmental audits for suppliers’ internal management systems
Collaboration with suppliers COL1 Visit We visit our suppliers’ premises to help them improve their performance Bowen et al. (2001), Krause et al. (2000)
COL2 Training We provide training/education to these suppliers’ personnel
COL3 Joint efforts We make joint efforts with these suppliers to reduce waste
Environmental performance EP1 Waste reduction We have achieved a reduction of pollution and waste Daily et al. (2007), Rao and Holt (2005)
EP2 Compliance We have improved compliance with environmental laws
EP3 Recycling We have increased the level of recycling
EP4 Environmental protection We have preserved the environment
EP5 Reputation We have improved the environmental reputation of our company
EP6 Overall environmental performance We have improved the overall environmental performance of our company

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Gimenez, C., Sierra, V. Sustainable Supply Chains: Governance Mechanisms to Greening Suppliers. J Bus Ethics 116, 189–203 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-012-1458-4

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  • Sustainable supply chains
  • Supply chain governance mechanisms
  • Green supply management
  • Greening suppliers
  • Environmental performance