IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Critical factors for sub-supplier management: A sustainable food supply chains perspective


  • Grimm, Jörg H.
  • Hofstetter, Joerg S.
  • Sarkis, Joseph


The food industry and its supply chains have significant sustainability implications. Effective supply chain management requires careful consideration of multiple tiers of partners, especially with respect to sustainability issues. Firms increasingly approach their sub-suppliers to drive compliance with social and environmental efforts. A number of complexities and unique challenges make sub-supplier management more difficult than direct supplier management, e.g. a lack of contractual relationships to sub-suppliers, few opportunities to put direct pressure on sub-suppliers, or lack of transparency concerning sub-suppliers' involvement in a focal firm's supply chains. The literature has not investigated, either from sustainability or other perspectives, the critical success factors (CSFs) for firms' sub-supplier management. Therefore, this study seeks to explore and increase understanding of critical factors that help to overcome the complexities and unique challenges of sub-supplier management, with a focus on the food industry. Using data and information from a year-long field study in two food supply chains, the research identified 14 CSFs that influence the success of sub-suppliers' compliance with corporate sustainability standards (CSS). The identified CSFs can be classified into (1) focal firm-related, (2) relationship-related, (3) supply chain partner-related, and (4) context-related CSFs. The present research expands on the theory of critical success factors by applying the theory to the sustainability and sub-supplier management context. In support of critical success theory, it was found that CSFs do exist and their management will be necessary for effective sub-supplier management success as highlighted and exemplified by field study insights from practitioners. Multiple research avenues are necessary for further evaluation of sub-supplier management in the food industry and other industries who may find similar issues that arose from the food industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Grimm, Jörg H. & Hofstetter, Joerg S. & Sarkis, Joseph, 2014. "Critical factors for sub-supplier management: A sustainable food supply chains perspective," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 159-173.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:152:y:2014:i:c:p:159-173
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2013.12.011

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. B. Ageron & A. Gunasekaran & A. Spalanzani, 2012. "Sustainable supply management : an empirical study," Post-Print halshs-00740499, HAL.
    2. Zhu, Qinghua & Sarkis, Joseph & Cordeiro, James J. & Lai, Kee-Hung, 2008. "Firm-level correlates of emergent green supply chain management practices in the Chinese context," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 577-591, August.
    3. Magali Delmas & Ivan Montiel, 2009. "Greening the Supply Chain: When Is Customer Pressure Effective?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 171-201, March.
    4. Berman, Barry & Swani, Kunal, 2010. "Managing product safety of imported Chinese goods," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 39-48, January.
    5. Julia Wolf, 2011. "Sustainable Supply Chain Management Integration: A Qualitative Analysis of the German Manufacturing Industry," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 102(2), pages 221-235, August.
    6. Fu, Xiaoyong & Zhu, Qinghua & Sarkis, Joseph, 2012. "Evaluating green supplier development programs at a telecommunications systems provider," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 357-367.
    7. Sarkis, Joseph & Zhu, Qinghua & Lai, Kee-hung, 2011. "An organizational theoretic review of green supply chain management literature," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 1-15, March.
    8. Heledd Jenkins, 2006. "Small Business Champions for Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 241-256, September.
    9. Ageron, Blandine & Gunasekaran, Angappa & Spalanzani, Alain, 2012. "Sustainable supply management: An empirical study," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 168-182.
    10. Raynolds, Laura T., 2009. "Mainstreaming Fair Trade Coffee: From Partnership to Traceability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1083-1093, June.
    11. Castka, Pavel & Balzarova, Michaela A., 2008. "ISO 26000 and supply chains--On the diffusion of the social responsibility standard," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 274-286, February.
    12. Darnall, Nicole & Seol, Inshik & Sarkis, Joseph, 2009. "Perceived stakeholder influences and organizations' use of environmental audits," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 170-187, February.
    13. Vachon, Stephan & Klassen, Robert D., 2008. "Environmental management and manufacturing performance: The role of collaboration in the supply chain," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 299-315, February.
    14. Michael Maloni & Michael Brown, 2006. "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Supply Chain: An Application in the Food Industry," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 35-52, September.
    15. Julia Roloff, 2008. "Learning from Multi-Stakeholder Networks: Issue-Focussed Stakeholder Management," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 82(1), pages 233-250, September.
    16. Niklas Egels-Zandén, 2007. "Suppliers’ Compliance with MNCs’ Codes of Conduct: Behind the Scenes at Chinese Toy Suppliers," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 75(1), pages 45-62, September.
    17. Tran, Nhuong & Bailey, Conner & Wilson, Norbert & Phillips, Michael, 2013. "Governance of Global Value Chains in Response to Food Safety and Certification Standards: The Case of Shrimp from Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 325-336.
    18. Bin Jiang, 2009. "Implementing Supplier Codes of Conduct in Global Supply Chains: Process Explanations from Theoretic and Empirical Perspectives," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 85(1), pages 77-92, March.
    19. Kolk, Ans & van Tulder, Rob, 2002. "The Effectiveness of Self-regulation:: Corporate Codes of Conduct and Child Labour," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 260-271, June.
    20. Bai, Chunguang & Sarkis, Joseph, 2010. "Integrating sustainability into supplier selection with grey system and rough set methodologies," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 252-264, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lees, Nic J. & Nuthall, P.L. & Wilson, M.M.J., 2016. "The impact of relationship quality on supplier performance in New Zealand agri-food supply chains," 26th International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) World Forum, 2016, Aarhus, Denmark 273035, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA).
    2. Sadaat Ali Yawar & Stefan Seuring, 2017. "Management of Social Issues in Supply Chains: A Literature Review Exploring Social Issues, Actions and Performance Outcomes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 621-643, March.
    3. Belén Derqui & Teresa Fayos & Vicenc Fernandez, 2016. "Towards a More Sustainable Food Supply Chain: Opening up Invisible Waste in Food Service," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(7), pages 1-20, July.
    4. repec:taf:oabmxx:v:2:y:2015:i:1:p:1052916 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Weihua Liu & Enze Bai & Liwei Liu & Wanying Wei, 2017. "A Framework of Sustainable Service Supply Chain Management: A Literature Review and Research Agenda," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(3), pages 1-25, March.
    6. repec:eee:proeco:v:197:y:2018:i:c:p:283-296 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Nudurupati, Sai Sudhakar & Bhattacharya, Arijit & Lascelles, David & Caton, Nicholas, 2015. "Strategic sourcing with multi-stakeholders through value co-creation: An evidence from global health care company," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 248-257.
    8. Jabbour, Charbel José Chiappetta & Neto, Angelo Saturnino & Gobbo, José Alcides & Ribeiro, Maisa de Souza & Jabbour, Ana Beatriz Lopes de Sousa, 2015. "“Eco-innovations in more sustainable supply chains for a low-carbon economy: A multiple case study of human critical success factors in Brazilian leading companies”," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 245-257.
    9. repec:spr:decisn:v:45:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s40622-017-0171-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:eee:proeco:v:194:y:2017:i:c:p:73-87 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Wilhelm, Miriam & Blome, Constantin & Wieck, Ellen & Xiao, Cheng Yong, 2016. "Implementing sustainability in multi-tier supply chains: Strategies and contingencies in managing sub-suppliers," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 196-212.
    12. Bai, Chunguang & Dhavale, Dileep & Sarkis, Joseph, 2016. "Complex investment decisions using rough set and fuzzy c-means: An example of investment in green supply chains," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 248(2), pages 507-521.
    13. Gaelle Petit & Gwenola Yannou-Le Bris & Gilles Trystram & Amrine Lallmahomed, 2017. "Sustainability For The Actors Of A Food Value Chain: How To Cooperate?," Post-Print hal-01567341, HAL.
    14. repec:kap:jbuset:v:147:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2963-z is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:152:y:2014:i:c:p:159-173. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.