Sustainability Complexities in Supply Chains: A Qualitative Study utilizing Social Systems Theory




Economic Sustainability, Supply Chain Management, Sustainability, Social Systems Theory, Complexity


The purpose of this paper is to explore which sustainability complexities firms see in their supply chains. As supply chains consist of various actors and the consideration of sustainability requirements in supply chains adds to the complexity of the management of the supply chains, we apply the social systems theory as a theoretical framework enlighten inherent complexities. For investigating the research purpose, this study carried out multiple case studies with firms in the agriculture sector as these firms rely on the natural habitat and produce or source agricultural products face high expectations but also pressures from various actors. The interviewed firms were from textiles, beverages, coffee, food, non-food, cosmetics, ingredients and chemical branches. In total, this study conducted 26 semi-structured interviews with sustainability responsibles. The findings show, which different sustainability complexities firms in different branches see. By that, this study contributes to the literature as it is to the best of our knowledge the first utilizing social systems theory in the context of sustainable supply chain management. Second, for reducing sustainability complexities firms need to view and understand their relevant sustainability complexities first. Third, this paper contributes with managerial implications as firms can use our research as a starting point for identifying sustainability complexities and coping with them.

How to Cite

Neske, A., Bordiyanu, I., & Brauweiler, C. (2024). Sustainability Complexities in Supply Chains: A Qualitative Study utilizing Social Systems Theory. Eurasian Journal of Economic and Business Studies, 68(1), 58–76.