Composite sustainable manufacturing practice and performance framework: Chinese auto-parts suppliers' perspective

Zhen Wang, Nachiappan Subramanian, Angappa Gunasekaran, Muhammad D. Abdulrahman, Chang Liu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainability is increasingly becoming the main objective of most forward-looking organisations. However, the selective and disconnected examinations of sustainable manufacturing practices and dimensions have denied stakeholders an overall understanding of sustainability initiatives. Practitioners and policymakers are sceptical about the relationships between sustainable manufacturing practices and sustainability dimensions such as environmental, economic and social from the perspective of the triple bottom line (3BL). Furthermore it is evident that practitioners are only interested in following few practices to achieve 3BL performance. Past studies either proposed new methodologies to examine sustainability dimensions or suggested few sustainable manufacturing practices such as quality and green practices that consider one or two dimensions of sustainability. However, to the best of our knowledge, no study has yet established a relationship between composite sustainable manufacturing practices and 3BL performance. This gap suggests a need for a theoretical framework to examine sustainable manufacturing in relation to three sustainability dimensions and study the impact of this relationship on 3BL performance. Using explanatory case studies carried out at two local Chinese auto-parts companies we examine the extent and effectiveness of composite sustainability manufacturing practices including lean, green, and social responsibility implementation and their relation to 3BL performance. Based on our literature review and the findings of the case studies, a composite sustainable manufacturing practices and performance framework are proposed. Findings indicate that the lean practice of 'continuous improvement', social practice of 'health and safety', and green practices of 'use of fuel efficient tools' and 'machines utilisation' contributed most to composite sustainability manufacturing practices in the investigated Chinese auto-parts companies. From the practitioners' points of view we formulated an optimisation model to select a few sets of practices among the composite sustainable manufacturing practices that would aid firms to achieve their targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Composite framework
  • Green
  • Lean
  • Measures
  • Performance
  • Social
  • Sustainable manufacturing practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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