Motives and Performance Outcomes of Sustainable Supply Chain Management Practices: A Multi-theoretical Perspective

Antony Paulraj, Injazz J. Chen, Constantin Blome

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

204 Citations (Scopus)


Many researchers believe the tremendous industrial development over the past two centuries is unsustainable because it has led to unintended ecological deterioration. Despite the ever-growing attention sustainable supply-chain management (SSCM) has received, most SSCM research and models look at the consequences, rather than the antecedents or motives of such responsible practices. The few studies that explore corporate motives have remained largely qualitative, and large-scale empirical analyses are scarce. Drawing on multiple theories and combining supply-chain and business ethics literature, we purport that instrumental, relational, and moral motives are behind a firm’s engagement in SSCM practices. Specifically, we examine the links between corporate motives, SSCM practices, and firm performance. Using a sample of 259 supply-chain firms in Germany, we empirically test five hypothesized relationships. Our results reveal that relational and moral motives are key drivers, and that firms exhibiting high levels of moral obligations tend to outperform those primarily driven by amoral considerations. Findings of this study contribute to multiple literatures espousing sustainability management and can help policy makers, stakeholder groups, and scholars develop more robust strategies for encouraging firms to practice SSCM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-258
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental sustainability
  • Firm performance
  • Motives
  • Supply-chain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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