Roy, V., Schoenherr, T., & Charan, P. (2020). Toward an organizational understanding of the transformation needed for sustainable supply chain management: The concepts of force-field and differential efforts. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 26(3).


This paper facilitates an in-depth view of the transformation needed for the transition from traditional to sustainable supply chain management (SSCM)—by delineating its elemental aspects. Taking an organizational unit of analysis perspective, this conceptual review seeks to characterize the fundamental nature of complexities inherent in the transformation, and thereby seeks to explicate the elemental nature of organizational efforts responsible for shaping sustainable supply chains. The findings outline intriguing mechanisms for explaining the complex and endless nature of the transformation for organizations. This discourse also involves the proposition of two novel concepts applied in this context: the SSCM Force-field and Differential Efforts in SSCM. While the former represents the intricate interplay between organizational efforts and organizational complexities in absorbing SSCM practices in the supply chain routines of an organization, the latter reflects the value of additional efforts above and beyond what is required in existing supply chain routines, to facilitate the integration of a desired SSCM practice into routines. The findings show how the force-field impedes an organization's progress in SSCM and how differential effort allows an organization to overcome the force-field to extend theoretical frameworks and offering valuable guidance for practicing managers. Overall, the research strengthens the conceptual foundation of SSCM theory by explicating the under-explored aspects involved in an organization's progressive journey toward SSCM. Further, it is a first attempt to outline the organizational implications of the SSCM journey.