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Managing Information Processing Needs in Global Supply Chains: A Prerequisite to Sustainable Supply Chain Management


  • Christian Busse
  • Jan Meinlschmidt
  • Kai Foerstl


Sustainability is an important topic in supply chain management research and practice. For buying firms, one of the most pressing challenges associated with sustainable supply chain management is that they frequently do not possess sufficient information on what is occurring in their complex supply chains, as demonstrated by numerous incidents lacking sustainability. Using eight in†depth case studies across four industries and elaborating on information processing theory, we identify three forms of sustainability†related uncertainty that each firm is facing in its supply chain. We refer to them as task uncertainty, source uncertainty, and supply chain uncertainty. The study shows that the extent to which these uncertainties translate into information processing needs depends on a newly identified boundary condition labeled uncertainty intolerance. With respect to the management of such information processing needs, prior research has pointed primarily at matching information processing needs with fitting information processing capacity and secondly at mitigating information processing needs with corrective measures. This study illuminates how some innovative firms occasionally employ a more radical sustainability†driven supply chain modification mechanism. In doing so, this research exemplifies how sustainable supply chain management may eventually turn from an amendment to a firm's daily business to a decisive factor for shaping future supply chains. In addition, the study constitutes a nascent step to elevate information processing theory to the supply chain level.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Busse & Jan Meinlschmidt & Kai Foerstl, 2017. "Managing Information Processing Needs in Global Supply Chains: A Prerequisite to Sustainable Supply Chain Management," Journal of Supply Chain Management, Institute for Supply Management, vol. 53(1), pages 87-113, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jscmgt:v:53:y:2017:i:1:p:87-113

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