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International Journal of Production Research

Call for Papers | Multi-tier Sustainable Supply Chains Management for Global Sustainability | Deadline: February 28th, 2021

Contribute a paper

Important dates:
First submission deadline: 28 February, 2021
1st round decision (major revision): 30 April, 2021
Resubmission: 31 July, 2021
2nd round decision (minor revision): 31 October, 2021
Final acceptance: 31 December, 2021

Sustainability is a growing global concern. Production and consumption are the causes of these pressing issues (Tseng et al., 2016). As a result, sustainability is strategically important in both academic research and management practice. Industries and organisations are pressured by various stakeholder and advocacy groups to become more sustainable (Sarkis, 2018; Bai et al., 2019, Kusi-Sarpong et al. 2019, Orji et al., 2019). Organisations have started to respond to this important call by implementing sustainable practices not only within their operations but also in their extended supply chains (Khan et al. 2018; Kusi-Sarpong et al., 2016).

This important step of managing sustainability beyond the focal firm has predominantly focused on an arms-length solution of targeting the first-tier supplier, which is not enough in dealing with the complex issues (Tachizawa and Wong, 2014). A focal firm may not be able to control the unsustainable practices of their suppliers, customers may potentially link their suppliers’ negative behaviours to them (Hartmann and Moeller, 2014). Thus, with a focus on supply chains, leading firms, which play a central role in the entire network, may be at greater risk for being held accountable for the failure of their deep – multi-tier – suppliers, with profound consequences including damage of corporate reputation, increased operational cost, eroded consumer confidence, revenue and margins.

It is unavoidable that such circumstances undermine business sustainability in the long term, particularly under the influence of stricter regulatory compliance, pressure from media, non-government organizations (NGO) and other external stakeholders. How far leading and focal organisations can influence their supply chains to address these pressing global sustainability issues and concerns will determine the diffusion depth level of global supply chain sustainability practices. Multi-tier sustainable supply chains are a vehicle to aid in this important global goal (Sarkis et al., 2019). Multi-tier supply chain management requires that leading firms be able to apply supply chain leadership and supply chain learning to extend their sustainability initiatives to lower-tier suppliers (Gong et al, 2018; Jia et al, 2019).

We invite original manuscripts and studies from scholars, academicians, and industry practitioners to share their latest research in improving industrial and supply chains sustainability through multi-tier supply chain management strategies. Submitted manuscripts and studies may include both theoretical and methodological studies. Analytical methods including multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) models, simulations, network design and optimisation models, case studies, and empirical statistical analyses are all welcome.  

Topics of interest 


Potential topics for the Special Issue include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Barriers, enablers, and tools for diffusion of sustainability standards throughout a multi-tier supply chain; 
  • Multi-level analyses and roles of various partners in multi-tier supply chains in managing dissemination of sustainable supply chain management practices; multiple perspectives are encouraged; 
  • How can product research models, tools, theories, and perspectives need to expand to multi-tier complex relationships for multi-tier sustainable supply chain management.
  • Successes and failures in studies and practice related to multi-tier sustainable supply chains. Practical and clear implications to advance the body of knowledge and practical experience. 
  • Production and supply chain theory advances needed to fully appreciate and investigate the multi-tier sustainable supply chain situation, its complexities, and non-linear relationships. 
  • The interactions and roles of various sustainability elements - social, environmental, and economic - in various supply chain structural and social environments: Linear, closed-loop, and emergent circular economy network investigations.

Principal Guest Editor

Dr. Simonov Kusi-Sarpong ([email protected]),
Department of Decision Analytics and Risk, Southampton Business School, 
University of Southampton, Southampton UK.




Dr. Yu (Jack) Gong ([email protected]), 
Southampton Business School, University of Southampton, UK

Prof. Steve Brown ([email protected]), 
Southampton Business School, University of Southampton, UK

Dr. Himanshu Gupta ([email protected]),
Department of Management Studies, IIT (ISM), India

Prof. Chunguang Bai ([email protected]),
School of Management and Economics, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), China

Dr. Ifeyinwa Juliet Orji ([email protected])
Dongwu Business School, Soochow University, China

Dr. Stephan Vachon ([email protected]),
Ivey Business School, Western University, Canada

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Bai, C., Kusi-Sarpong, S., Badri Ahmadi, H., & Sarkis, J. (2019). Social sustainable supplier evaluation and selection: a group decision-support approach. International Journal of Production Research, 1-22.

Gong, Y., Jia, F., Brown, S., & Koh, L. (2018). Supply chain learning of sustainability in multi-tier supply chains: A resource orchestration perspective. International Journal of Operations & Production Management38(4), 1061-1090.

Hartmann, J., & Moeller, S. (2014). Chain liability in multitier supply chains? Responsibility attributions for unsustainable supplier behavior. Journal of operations management32(5), 281-294.

Jia, F., Gong, Y., & Brown, S. (2019). Multi-tier sustainable supply chain management: The role of supply chain leadership. International Journal of Production Economics217, 44-63.

Khan, S. A., Kusi-Sarpong, S., Arhin, F. K., & Kusi-Sarpong, H. (2018). Supplier sustainability performance evaluation and selection: A framework and methodology. Journal of cleaner production205, 964-979.

Kusi-Sarpong, S., Sarkis, J., & Wang, X. (2016). Assessing green supply chain practices in the Ghanaian mining industry: A framework and evaluation. International Journal of Production Economics181, 325-341.

Kusi-Sarpong, S., Gupta, H., & Sarkis, J. (2019). A supply chain sustainability innovation framework and evaluation methodology. International Journal of Production Research57(7), 1990-2008.

Orji, I. J., Kusi-Sarpong, S., & Gupta, H. (2019). The critical success factors of using social media for supply chain social sustainability in the freight logistics industry. International Journal of Production Research, 1-18.

Sarkis, J., Gonzalez, E. D. S., & Koh, S. L. (2019). Effective multi-tier supply chain management for sustainability. International Journal of Production Economics217, 1-10.

Tachizawa, E. M., & Wong, C. Y. (2014). Towards a theory of multi-tier sustainable supply chains: a systematic literature review. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal19(5/6), 643-663.

Tseng, M. L., Tan, K. H., Geng, Y., & Govindan, K. (2016). Sustainable consumption and production in emerging markets. International Journal of Production Economics181, Part B, 257-261.