What are tradeoffs and obstacles towards a comprehensive framework of supply chain performance in global food chains?

Stefan Gold, Nathan Kunz, Gerald Reiner

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingContribution to conference proceedings


The paper investigates why business still postpones integration of sustainability and other non-financial performance measures into global agrifood supply chains.

On basis of literature-based conceptual reasoning (“disciplined imagination”), we identify tradeoffs that are prevalent in basic agrifood supply chain strategy types (efficient, risk-hedging, responsive, and agile chains) and tradeoffs that additionally emerge when agrifood chains simultaneously strive for sustainability. Further, we conceptualize one major obstacle for businesses pursuing comprehensive supply chain performance in global agrifood chains, which helps explaining why agrifood chains procrastinate the integration of sustainability into their business activities.

First, we develop a variety of research propositions about performance trade-offs that appear when agrifood chains follow different supply chain strategy types. Second, we point out that many supply chain performance attributes represent in fact credence attributes not to be verified by the (final) consumer. Rational business responses to this situation tend to optimize publicity efforts by sustainability reports and other brand-enhancing marketing tools that are often and easily decoupled from real efforts of operations and supply chain improvements.

Research limitations/implications
The research propositions are to be tested in follow-up empirical and modeling/simulation research on global food supply chains.

The conceptual considerations presented in the paper serve as basis for managers and academics to develop innovative inter- and intra-organizational business processes that reconcile tradeoffs pushing the performance frontier outwards and that overcome hurdles towards sustainability that are inherent in current food production, processing, retailing and consumption/shopping practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationColloquium on European Retail Research
Editors Colloquium on European Retail Research
Place of PublicationParis
Pages1 - 10
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 102009 Computer simulation
  • 502052 Business administration
  • 502012 Industrial management
  • 211
  • 502017 Logistics
  • 502032 Quality management

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