Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Call for Journal Special Issue:heory Building Surrounding Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Journal of Supply Chain Management (JSCM)

A Special Topic Forum (STF) Dedicated to “Theory Building Surrounding Sustainable Supply Chain Management”

Guest Editors:

  • Gideon Markman, Colorado State University
  • Dan Krause, Colorado State University

The area of social and environmental sustainability attracts scholars from diverse disciplines (e.g., supply chain, management, finance, accounting, marketing, political science, sociology, economics, management, etc. to name a few). Such cross-disciplinary effort is needed because although many scholars link sustainability to discrete business activities—inbound and outbound logistics, processes and operations, finished products and customer interface, distribution channels, and services—we do not have an overarching, integrative theory of sustainability.

For example, some suggest a “green to be seen” perspective—that consumers are willing to pay extra forsustainable offerings but only if clear status incentives are associated with such purchases (Griskevicius, Tybur, & Van den Bergh, 2010). Others note that because a shift towards sustainable practices is costly and disruptive of firms’ functions, green management matters, but only if it yields higher profits (Siegel, 2009). If companies can charge premium prices (and consumers are willing to pay more) for sustainable products, but only when such purchases enhance buyers’ reputation or firms’ bottom line, what are the implications for products, services, and operations that are less observable or less augmentative of financial performance? Indeed, some companies, such as Apple, decline to name their suppliers and the provenance of raw materials (The Guardian, 2013). When companies follow a policy of non-disclosure of suppliers, materials, and practices, do they worry that transparency—including the touting of ethical supply chain practices—reveals their competitive secrets to rivals? Are they simply attempting to hide unethical practices? Or, are there other reasons?

Regardless of the motivation, it is increasingly apparent that choices and considerations of sustainability are critical in most if not all business functions. Despite the importance of sustainability, not every scholar, manager, or company agrees on the conceptual connections among and drivers of sustainability and SCM. Part of the problem is insufficient theory.

Supply chain scholars are perhaps among the most qualified to develop a theory of sustainability because they observe firms’ entire value chains. Such scholarship analyzes how firms combine raw inputs from disparate suppliers; how inputs are processed and augmented into outputs; and how such outputs are then sold to customers. This also means that supply chain scholars can keenly appreciate how even seemingly inconsequential choices in early value-chain activities can trigger cascading effects that bring a smooth-running operation to a grinding halt with negative consequences—e.g., undermining the reputation of a single firm, or worse, ravaging entire industries (e.g., the tobacco industry).

Such examples, and scores of insightful studies in diverse disciplines, corroborate the need—in fact, an opportunity—to develop an overarching, integrative theory of sustainability. Hence, this STF is a platform for scholars to showcase their best conceptual research on sustainability, and hopefully, its impact on operations and supply chain management. The STF might appear broad—encompassing sustainability, ethics, CSR, and of course, supply chain management—but the focus on theory papers (which encompass both pure conceptual theory building and qualitative methodologies such as inductive case studies) rather than deductive, big data, “empirical” research does narrow the scope.

We are particularly interested in “edgy” manuscripts that would yield conceptual platforms, open up new research frontiers, or offer new insights that significantly enrich discussion and discourse as well as those that unpack important, timeless, yet revelatory topics. We dare contributors to think outside the traditional “research sandbox" and to feature radical, controversial, novel, useful, and non-obvious conceptual lenses—even if notfully grounded in well-validated empirical studies. Of course, manuscripts can't be merely descriptive; a strong effort to build a theoretical foundation is still needed. The STF hopes to energize the field by featuring contributions that extend existing knowledge, challenge research dogmas, cross disciplinary boundaries, and reveal what we otherwise had not conceived about sustainability.

To echo others and apply their logic to the STF, a good theory would offer a causal story about the nature of sustainability, as well as on its antecedents, drivers, and consequences (Sutton & Staw, 1995). Laced with a set of convincing and logically interconnected arguments, a theory of sustainability might also burrow into micro-processes, laterally into neighboring conceptual arenas (e.g., ethics), or in an upward direction, tying itself to broader social or environmental outcomes and events. Indeed, a theory of sustainability might have implications that we have not seen, including inferences that run counter to prevalent expectations. Weick (1995) notes that a good theory explains, predicts, and delights; we will be delighted to receive manuscripts that feature a theory that explains and predicts social and/or environmental supply chain sustainability.

The STF and review process will favor scholarly work that breaks away from “gradualism” in order to shed light on both big conceptual questions and on significant and practical problems that are related to the topical area. Consistent with the JSCM ethos, the final manuscripts—collectively and individually—will have to make strong theoretical contributions.

Submission process and guidelines:

  • Papers will be reviewed following the JSCM double-blind review process. Papers should be submittedbetween December 15, 2014 and the January 15, 2015 deadline via the Journal's online submission platform ( Please note in the cover letter that the submission is for theSpecial Topic Forum on Theory Building Surrounding Sustainable Supply Chain Management. Papers should be prepared using the JSCM Guidelines.
  • Questions can be addressed to the guest editors:
  • Gideon Markman (
  • Dan Krause ( 
  • The editors welcome informal enquiries related to proposed topics.

Special Issue Workshop: To help authors advance their manuscripts, a Special Issue Workshop will be held in May 2015 in Denver, Colorado (to co-occur with the Sustainability, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship—SEE—Conference). Authors of R&R manuscripts will be invited to present and discuss their papers during the workshop, but presentation at the workshop does not guarantee acceptance of papers for publication in JSCM. Attending the workshop is not a precondition for acceptance into the STF.


Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J.M., & Van den Bergh, B. 2010. Going green to be seen: Status, reputation, and conspicuous conservation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98: 392–404.
Monbiot, G., 2013. Why is Apple so shifty about how it makes the iPhone? The Guardian. (last accessed - December 25, 2013).
Siegel, D.S. 2009. Green management matters only if it yields more green: An economic/strategic perspective. Academy of Management Perspective, 23:5-16.

Further info:
Gideon D. Markman
Associate Professor of Strategy, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship
Dept. of Management
Colorado State University
218 Rockwell Hall
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1275
Office: 970.491.7154
Fax: 970.491.3522
E-Mail 1:
E-Mail 2: