The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0960-0035.htm IJPDLM 41,3 Future sustainable supply chains: what should companies scan? Nathalie Fabbe-Costes 228 Centre de REcherche sur le Transport et la LOGistique, ´ ´ ´ Universite de la Mediterranee-Aix-Marseille II, Aix-en-Provence, France Received October 2009 Christine Roussat Revised February 2010, May 2010, Centre de REcherche sur le Transport et la LOGistique, June 2010 ´ Universite Clermont-Ferrand II, Aix-en-Provence, France, and Accepted June 2010 Jacques Colin Centre de REcherche sur le Transport et la LOGistique, ´ ´ ´ Universite de la Mediterranee-Aix-Marseille II, Aix-en-Provence, France Abstract Purpose – Companies that try to build sustainable supply chains or that have to reengineer their supply chains to face sustainable development issues are confronted with such a complex and uncertain context that scanning their environment becomes more than ever necessary. This paper makes up the ﬁrst stage of a research program. It aims to ﬁnd an adequate scanning approach for sustainable supply chain design. Design/methodology/approach – The research follows a two-steps methodology. First, it looks for appropriate scanning frameworks by reviewing the dedicated literature. Second, it gathers ideas and knowledge combining an analysis of sustainable supply chain empirical studies with the collection of experts’ scanning know-how, by means of semi-structured interviews. Findings – This ﬁrst stage of the research program suggests use of a multi-and interrelated levels scope for sustainable scanning with a network perspective. The renewed target approach it promotes results in modifying scanning priorities. The overall ﬁndings shape up the ﬁrst draft of a sustainable scanning framework, including a multi-levels scope of analysis, a list of sustainable targets and a ﬁrst contribution concerning scanning methods and attitudes. Research limitations/implications – The relevance of our scanning framework needs further testing to validate its usefulness and provide recommendations for managers. Practical implications – The paper proposes a scanning framework and a list of targets that could be implemented by professionals. Originality/value – The contribution in this paper is to link environmental scanning and sustainable development adding a supply chain orientation, and to propose a conceptual “sustainable scanning framework”. It is hoped that further research will prove that it has interesting managerial implications for companies challenged by sustainable development issues. Keywords Supply chain management, Sustainable development Paper type Research paper 1. Sustainable supply chains: the need for grasping the environment Originally dubbed “eco development” (at the Stockholm 1972 International Conference), International Journal of Physical the concept of “sustainable development” was ﬁnally deﬁned in the IUCN,1980 World Distribution & Logistics Management Conservation Strategy report (1980) and acknowledged in Rio de Janeiro earth summit or Vol. 41 No. 3, 2011 pp. 228-252 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0960-0035 The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their signiﬁcant help and DOI 10.1108/09600031111123778 guidance with this paper. “The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development” (UNCED) held in Sustainable Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992 as “a development that meets the needs of the supply chains present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. While different trends exist, the most widespread one supports the triple bottom line approach combining environmental friendliness, social responsibility and economic development. Academic and corporate interest in sustainable development has been growing and the recent worldwide ﬁnancial and energy crises are likely to reinforce the 229 weight of sustainable development within public and corporate strategic objectives. The last decades have shown great changes in logistics, operation management and supply chain management (SCM) in companies, and today’s organizations are still reorganizing and streamlining their supply chains so as to better face strategic challenges. Considering the development of complex worldwide production/distribution networks and of global commodity/value chains (Bairns, 2005), sustainable development issues involve not only ﬁrms but entire supply chains as well. Most experts are convinced that sustainable development requirements will have a strong impact on logistics, operations management and SCM, and that “all industries will be challenged to reorganize their supply chains” (Vachon and Mao, 2008, p. 1552). This would suggest that the unit that will be dealt with in future strategic re-engineering will not be the individual ﬁrm but the network of collaborating companies, and that great changes will have to be made regarding supply chain processes and SCM. SCM is a pulled-oriented approach in charge of practically linking demand and supply. SCM has many meanings and has given rise to research at many levels (Mentzer et al., 2001). In accordance with an extended supply chain approach recently recommended by Linton et al. (2007), we refer to SCM as an integrative philosophy to manage total ﬂows as cooperatively as possible, from the earliest raw materials suppliers to the ultimate customers, and beyond, namely the disposal and recycling processes, too. Thus, like Chen and Paulraj (2004, p. 121), we consider that “the business world is composed of a network of interdependent relationships developed and fostered through strategic collaboration with to the goal of deriving mutual beneﬁts”. In line with the typology of Larson et al. (2007, p. 4), we adopt the unionist perspective, in which “SCM subsumes many traditional business functional areas, including purchasing, logistics, operations, and marketing”. Since this perspective “espouses a multiple function SCM concept” (Larson et al., 2007, p. 6), we subscribe to a broad and deep SCM perspective. In line with these conceptual bases, we view supply chains in their highest degree of complexity as deﬁned by Mentzer et al. (2001, p. 4): the “ultimate supply chain” that “includes all the organizations involved in all the upstream and downstream ﬂows of products, services, ﬁnances, and information from the initial supplier to the ultimate customer”. The growing concern about sustainable development has an increasingly greater impact upon supply chains and SCM. As stated by Linton et al. (2007, p. 1078): [. . .] sustainability also must integrate issues and ﬂows that extend beyond the core of SCM: product design, manufacturing by-products, by-products produced during product use, product life extension, product end-of-life, and recovery processes at end-of-life. Beyond these requirements, sustainable supply chains are considered to be a strategic lever for ﬁrms. Researchers in SCM explore the links between sustainability-related competencies and competitive positions in highly competitive industries (Flint and Golicic, 2009). They urge ﬁrms to strategically undertake sustainable SCM IJPDLM in order to achieve higher economic performance (Carter and Rogers, 2008), or to ﬁnd 41,3 new areas of competitive advantage (Markley and Davis, 2007). Consequently, in their ¨ recent literature review dedicated to sustainable SCM, Seuring and Muller (2008, p. 1699) point out that “operations, purchasing and supply chain managers have seen the integration of environmental and social issues [. . .] into their daily tasks”. They also conclude that, “the focal company quite often has to take a longer part of the supply chain 230 into account”, and must have “information on the environmental and social performance at the single productions stages” of its suppliers (Seuring and Mu ¨ller, 2008, p. 1703). Focal ﬁrms are thus expected to take a wider environmental perspective, particularly those wanting “to prepare for the uncharted road, especially if they want to be pioneers or early adopters” of sustainable operations and SCM (Kleindorfer et al., 2005, p. 490). Sustainable development issues exert pressures upon companies, encouraging them to redesign their supply chains. These issues are complex (many intertwined factors are to be considered), hence modern organizations will have to get to grips with their environments, especially when they are both involved in embedded supply chains and intent upon tackling sustainable development issues. Therefore, companies need to scan their environment, but what should they scan? As is the case with SCM, we take a broad and deep approach of the environment: in this paper, the word stands for the whole surrounding context of the ﬁrm and of its supply chains, hence not limited to its ecological dimension. In line with Frishammar (2002, p. 145-6), environment refers to “all of the relevant factors outside an organization’s boundary that are incorporated into its decision making”. Since “most managers identiﬁed the need for forecasting as one of the most important managerial roles” (Raspin and Terjesen, 2007, p. 4), we suggest that organizations will potentially have to renew the way they delineate their supply chains and scan their environments to provide relevant information for proper forecasting. Our research program aims to provide an adequate scanning framework that could structure the way companies look for information they can put to use for future sustainable supply chain design. Our research questions are as follows: RQ1. In order to face new sustainable development issues, what should companies scan in their supply chains’ environment? RQ2. Do traditional scanning approaches and targets ﬁt these new requirements? RQ3. Should new frameworks be developed? Our article is organized as follows. First, since environmental scanning is an important topic in strategy, we analyze the dedicated literature to check whether scanning approaches ﬁt sustainable supply chain’s imperatives or not. Second, concluding that available scanning approaches do not explicitly address sustainable supply chain issues, our research design and methodology have been devised to question their relevance to sustainable supply chain scanning. Our results will then be presented and discussed, encapsulated in the concept of “sustainable scanning framework”. We shall conclude by summing up our research contributions, while discussing its limits and highlighting future research needs. 2. Findings from literature review The ﬁrst step of our research was to explore the scanning literature. We ﬁrst referred to academic papers, identiﬁed through a broad literature analysis of a doctoral dissertation (Roussat, 1996). Second, we updated these early readings, thanks to a free Sustainable literature research and a mechanical one bearing on all the journals found in Emerald supply chains and Science Direct databases, where we focused on articles published since 2000. “environmental scanning” was sought as an exact match in all ﬁelds (Emerald) or in abstract/title/keywords (Science Direct), and then completed with “competitive intelligence” and/or “corporate intelligence” searches. We also sought for associations between environmental scanning and “sustainable supply chain”, “sustainable 231 development” and “sustainability”. The whole literature analysis, whose details can be provided on request, has been conducted in several steps since 2007. 2.1 Environmental scanning to face strategic challenges Over the years, ﬁrms’ environment has gradually been considered as increasingly changing, uncertain and complex. Consequently, authors have emphasized the need to understand and analyze organizations’ environments and to factor external variables into strategic decision making. The normative strategic planning models (Gilmore and Brandenburg, 1962; Learned et al., 1965) explicitly include the need for the ﬁrm to collect information about its environment. Exploring threats and opportunities detected by environmental scanning remains critical for Ansoff (1975), who calls for the identiﬁcation of “weak signals”, or for Porter (1980), who links strategy formulation with the analysis of the industry. Hamel and Prahalad (1989) recommend developing an environmental focus at every level “through widespread use of competitive intelligence” to support the strategic intent of the ﬁrm. If environmental scanning was ﬁrst explored as part of “the art of planning” (Preble et al., 1988), it spread over strategic management approaches. The acknowledged necessity to provide managers with relevant information through environmental analysis has rapidly led to a dedicated research trend, thus bearing out its academic and managerial importance. First identiﬁed as environmental scanning, it thus evolved into business or competitive intelligence, sometimes focusing on “weak ¸ signals” (Mendonca et al., 2004; Day and Shoemaker, 2006). Ground-breaking authors commonly deﬁned environmental scanning as: [. . .] the activity of acquiring information [. . .] about events and relationships in a company’s outside environment, the knowledge of which would assist top management in its task of charting the company’s future course of action (Aguilar, 1967, p. 1). Scanning literature ﬁrst focused on managers’ individual scanning activities (Keegan, 1974). Though the subject is still being studied, perspectives on corporate scanning (Fahey and King, 1977; Stubbart, 1982; Lenz and Engledow, 1986) deﬁned typologies identifying an ideal scanning process (that collects large and multi-dimensional information, analyzes data with sophisticated methods and relies on a speciﬁc business unit) and sought for explanations for the different levels and patterns of scanning observed in practice (like in Choo, 2001). Empirical studies showed that environmental scanning is more frequent in high-performing ﬁrms (Daft et al., 1988), that enterprises with highly sophisticated scanning systems boast higher proﬁtability than the others (Subramanian et al., 1993), that perceived environment instability (Klein and Linneman, 1984) is positively correlated with higher scanning efforts in the ﬁrm, and that there is a positive relationship between scanning frequency and the likelihood of change in strategic content (Muralidharan, 2003). Even if some studies do not clearly conclude on the direction of causal relationships, the fact that “successful companies are actively involved in environmental scanning suggests IJPDLM it is considered a ‘valuable activity’” (Camponovo and Pigneur, 2004, p. 4), the most 41,3 important method among prospective ones (Schwarz, 2008). 2.2 Environmental scanning: which targeting approaches? In former research papers, most authors stood up for targeting the whole environment and advised ﬁrms against reducing their analysis to economic considerations (Fahey et al., 232 1981). They advocated the development of a scanning scope (the environmental zones to scan) that was to be as wide as possible, while suggesting that scanning operations be focused in order to ease the scanning process. Researchers thus designed various segmentations identifying different environmental components. Most approaches are in line with the Bourgeois’ (1980) work, dividing up the environment into “general” and “task” sub categories. General environmental frameworks have evolved from a mere list of macro-environmental components (political, economic, social and technological design) for Ahituv et al. (1998), similar to Aaker’s (1983) and Jain’s (1984); 15 environmental zones for Prescott and Smith (1989) to take on a deeper standpoint, including individual and collective cognitive perspectives for Brockhoff (1991), Slaughter (1999) and Voros (2001, 2003). Some wide-ranging designs include demography and natural resources (Kourteli’s, 2005). Task environment is mainly identiﬁed as consumers, competitors, government and more recently suppliers, in line with Porter’s ﬁve force model (1980). Brockhoff (1991) combines both approaches, dealing with “interest zones” (technological, political [etc.]) and “interest groups” (suppliers, clients [etc.]). ¸ It is often suggested to operationalize such frameworks: via checklists (Mendonca et al., 2004; Oreja-Rodriguez and Yanes-Estevez, 2007); through the use of causal diagrams close to information system design (Narchal et al., 1987) or road-mapping technology processes (Phaal et al., 2004; Camponovo and Pigneur, 2004). Moreover, in order to guide scanning, some researchers recommend completing environmental segmentation by prioritizations, based upon interviews of experts (Calori, 1989), according to “strategic importance for ﬁrms” (Stoffels, 1982), “event impact probability” (Aaker, 1983), or “critical and non-critical importance” (Bates, 1985). Finally, surveys conducted to determine the environmental zones that ﬁrms accurately monitor reveal a clear focalization on the economic and technological zones (Jain, 1984; Subramanian et al., 1993), but a slight enlargement of the scanning scope over time, as well. Empirical data also demonstrate that “executives in high-performing companies tend to scan environmental information more broadly than their counterparts in low performing companies” (Xu et al., 2003, p. 382). 2.3 Scanning scope: does it refer to sustainable supply chain issues? From the literature analysis, two important points can be outlined. First, we can note that most scanning papers retain a rather isolated vision of the ﬁrm (as an island, ˚ Hakansson and Snehota, 1989), and a fragmented approach of its environment, without emphasizing links and interactions through environmental components (except for the causal approaches previously pointed, and Fabbe-Costes and Roussat, 2007). Most scanning models are based on a priori variables to be taken into consideration, and these still focus on pioneer segmentations of the environment thus “remaining at the level of classifying it into sectors” (Xu et al., 2003, p. 382). As Tonn (2008, p. 596) notes, a review of the “state-of-the-art in environmental scanning does not reveal any major changes in its basic methods since the 1970s’”, conﬁrming the lack of conceptions of environments sufﬁcient for guiding scanning (Lenz and Engledow, 1986). Meanwhile, Sustainable the few empirical studies available (Benczur, 2005) do not offer much empirical data in supply chains order to examine the current scanning priorities in organizations. However, numerous authors call for environmental scanning to “more adequately comprehend a richer and more complex reality” (Slaughter, 1999, p. 441), advise ﬁrms to emphasize “the peripheral environment, new markets and services” (Veﬂen Olsen and Sallis, 2006, p. 51) and “to seek out a framework of multiple perspectives” (Neugarten, 2006, p. 903). 233 The second point raised is that very few papers in the literature address the matter of scanning as related to sustainable development. This is understandable considering the recent awareness of companies, but can also be challenged in so far as sustainable development is a recurring topic in the ﬁeld of management science. None of the papers we analyzed for this research explicitly refer to an environmental scanning process connected to sustainable development. We can just point out scanning business cases leading to the identiﬁcation of environmental trends (Adema and Roehl, 2010) or the inclusion in some frameworks of the “green” issue as an environmental component (for example in Voros’s spiral dynamics structure, in 2001). This surprising result appears to be conﬁrmed by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals 2003-2006 bibliographic opus (Fleisher et al., 2007), within which no paper seems to refer to sustainable development. The association between environmental scanning and sustainable development remains relevant as foresighting “presents a forward view, which is consistent with sustainability” (Tilley and Fuller, 2000, p. 158) while remaining implicit, since “the paradigm of sustainable development inherently, but not explicitly, embraces future thinking” (Kelly et al., 2004, p. 88). Environmental scanning is thus considered as a key to provide useful information to face strategic challenges but scanning frameworks do not embrace ﬁrms’ extended supply chain and do not refer explicitly to sustainable development. Links between the two concepts are obvious, insofar as incontrovertible deﬁnitions for sustainable development refer to future concerns, but have not been explored yet, at least by academics. Therefore, we may wonder whether scanning frameworks could still be called upon to provide useful information for sustainable supply chain design. That issue requires confronting scanning frameworks to sustainable supply chain design practices, in order to check scanning frameworks suitability and to identify relevant scanning targets. As a synthesis of the scanning literature review, three points need to be challenged: (1) The scope of the search for external information: should it be restricted to one environmental component or should it be given a broad scope, including various ones and/or a deep scope, mobilizing different levels of analysis? (2) The relevant targets shaping the scope of scanning: which environmental domains? Which panel of actors? Which other external data? (3) The targeting scanning methods or key attitudes: if a wide scope is necessary what type of prioritization should be opted for? If multiple targets are relevant how can they be combined? 3. Research design and methodology In order to question the relevance of scanning frameworks and targets for sustainable supply chains design, we explored data sources in various ﬁelds. We analyzed sustainable supply chains and SCM empirical studies to ﬁnd out which salient points or IJPDLM relevant targets were to be considered, and we sought knowledge and know-how from 41,3 sustainable supply chain “experts”. The choice of such data is justiﬁed by state-of-the-art scanning literature (Section 2) and the need to capture detailed and practice-related data to challenge existing scanning frameworks and targets. 3.1 Collecting secondary data through sustainable supply chain case studies 234 Case studies provide holistic and in-depth investigations of contemporary phenomena (Yin, 2003) and “because of their observational richness, they also provide a means of refutation of, or extensions to, existing concepts” Stuart et al. (2002, p. 422). In addition, case study is a research strategy that is developing in logistics (Frankel et al., 2005). We thus searched various sources for literature providing sustainable supply chain case studies used as second-hand data: PhD dissertations, published academic or lecture papers and consulting reports. First, we focused on the six PhD dissertations dedicated to sustainable supply chains supported by our research centre, a national pioneer in this area. Each dissertation provides an in-depth analysis of a speciﬁc sustainable supply chain (Table I) and has been considered as a second-hand case study. Second, in order to avoid cultural or “special school” bias, we complemented the approach with peer-reviewed papers dealing with sustainable supply chain issues through case studies published in academic journals and conferences. The identiﬁcation of the papers published since 2000 was conducted through Emerald and Science Direct databases seeking for “sustainable (supply) chain(s)”, “environmentally responsible supply chain”, “green logistics” and “reverse logistics” combined with “case study(ies)” exact match in abstract/title/keywords. This systematic research (details can be provided on request) was completed via free investigations, notably in the proceedings of recent international conferences such as Euroma and Nofoma 2009. Finally, we perused consulting documents (see the Appendix 1), translating ﬁrms’ experiences or proposing guidelines for sustainable supply chains. Considering the number of consultancies, we focused on widely recognized ﬁrms (ranking among top consultancy ﬁrms – http://careers-in-business.com/consulting/consrank09.htm) PhD No. Authors Topic – products – geographic area – supply chains PhD1 Ummenhofer How to prevent waste development in the European truck industry. (1998) Role of integrated-eco-logistics PhD2 Philipp (2005) Reverse distribution channel of computing appliances in Switzerland – manufacturers’ logistics strategies PhD3 Noireaux (2006) Reverse logistics of industrial waste produced in French industrial areas. How to structure the reverse channel? PhD4 Monnet (2007) Reverse logistics to process waste from electrical and electronic equipment – the role of logistics service providers in structuring the reverse supply chains (in Norway and France) PhD5 Diniz (2008) New supply chains to give value to Brazil nuts and help the development of sustainable development projects in Amazonia PhD6 Bardin (2008) The development of collective strategies in the retailing sector in France Table I. to face sustainable development requirements Case studies from PhD dissertations Source: Aix-Marseille University – references available at: www.cret-log.org or ﬁrms with an SCM specialization, and examined the documents published on their Sustainable web sites in 2008 and 2009. Case studies presented in these doctoral dissertations, lecture papers and consulting supply chains reports were confronted with scanning frameworks in the same way. They were re-read with “scanning lenses”, i.e. seeking every external data (fact, ﬁgure, event, trend, actor, and actors’ strategy) deemed useful in the sustainable supply chain design process. In line with the results of our scanning literature (Section 2), we undertook a thematic content 235 analysis coding explicit or implicit scanning scope, targets and methods (if relevant), and coding any other interesting idea or element suggested by the case studies. Through these analyses, we were able to check “classic” frameworks (mentioned in the literature) and to point out other scanning perspectives (Section 4 – results). 3.2 Generating primary data via interviewing experts In order to collect ﬁrst-hand information and to beneﬁt from the knowledge and know-how of experts in sustainable SCM, we used semi-structured interviews. Our goal was to collect insightful qualitative data to deﬁne environmental scanning for sustainable supply chain design as well as data related to uncovering underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings of 13 experts (Table II). Four experts are academics (A) working on strategic issues related to SCM and sustainable development. The other nine work within the sphere of sustainable supply chains as professionals (P), or experts (E) for different organizations. They have been selected on the basis of the “relevance of their points of view” on future sustainable supply chains (as articulated during meetings the authors attended). Interviews lasted from March 2009 to October 2009 until we reached a “saturation point”. They were conducted over the phone or face-to-face, based upon a formal interview guide structured around four complementary themes to facilitate analysis (Miles and Huberman, 1994): (1) Expert’s ﬁeld of interest and action: type of product, type of focal company studied; country; logistics and supply chain issues. Firm or organization Function or responsibility Code International furniture distribution group Transport CEO P1 Leading company in environment services Key account manager waste electrical and P2 electronic equipment Europe Leading stationery products group Security, environment and quality manager P3 National leading logistics service provider Organization and methods project manager P4 World-leading freight forwarder Information systems implementation project P5 leader World-leading freight forwarder Quality manager P6 Consultancy company Sustainable development and logistics expert E1 French environment and energy management Transport and mobility expert E2 agency Regional logistics cluster General manager E3 Centre for Sustainable Development, Brazilia Agribusiness expert A1 University Business school Supply chain teacher and researcher A2 French universities Two university assistant teachers A3 Table II. A4 Experts interviewed IJPDLM (2) Key points the expert would specially recommend to scan the environment of 41,3 the supply(s) chain(s) he/she is involved in, including past strategic surprises and perceived uncertain issues. (3) Main issues actually scanned by the expert to support the sustainable supply chain design process he/she participates to, including the identiﬁcation of important targets, interactions – if mentioned – between targets and main 236 problems faced. (4) Advice the expert could give to managers intending to feed their sustainable supply chain design process with environmental scanning information (what to scan, how to scan), insisting upon which type(s) of scoping approach(es) to choose. The different themes were completed with more precise questions or proposals in order to support the debate if necessary. Interviews were recorded and they lasted for at least one hour. We analyzed the collected qualitative data by carrying out a content thematic analysis. The ﬁeld materials, we collected (from empirical studies found in doctoral dissertations, research papers, consulting reports – see Section 3.1. – and experts’ interviews) were then reorganized in a structured way, in line with the questions raised by the literature review (Sections 1 and 2), such as: can we identify relevant key points to grasp the environment of a sustainable supply chain? What should be the scope of scanning? Which targets should be included in the scanning process? How should the process be conducted? Do we ﬁnd differences with theoretical scanning processes found in the literature? Is it relevant to draw up a renewed scanning framework? 4. Towards a scanning framework for sustainable supply chains 4.1 Generating the scanning framework The research questions the relevance of scanning frameworks and targets to provide useful information for sustainable supply chain design. The key literature points to be challenged (see conclusions of Section 2) were thus used as “lenses” to structure insights from the sustainable supply chain case studies (Section 3.1) and the interviews of experts (Section 3.2) as synthesized in Table III. The ﬁrst data processing was thus analytical, looking for every single element mentioned in or by the source. Elements from the ﬁrst data processing were analyzed and compared. This triangulation of the data from primary and secondary information sources led to identify several signiﬁer targets groups drawing different levels for the scanning framework (Sections 4.2 and 4.3). These levels were compared to existing scanning frameworks that are focalized on a corporate and sector approach, to conclude that sustainable scanning calls for a more sophisticated scope. Then, the analysis of the exhaustive list of targets for each level of scanning revealed the need for a new target approach and new scanning priorities (Sections 4.4 and 4.5) compared to existing ones. The analysis also permitted to point out the existing interactions between and within the framework levels. We thus complemented the analytic approach with a systemic one ending with a complex representation of the sustainable scanning scope and targets (Section 4.6). A ﬁnal analysis loop considering the overall results permitted to point out some outputs and led us to suggest some precautions for further use of the framework (detailed in the end of Section 4.6). These different results have been formulated below as suggestions to structure a scanning approach addressing sustainable supply chain issues. These suggestions make Scanning “lenses Scope of scanning Targeting approaches in the scanning process Prioritization among scanning Advice regarding the scanning Information sources Environmental domains Actors targets process Secondary sources Doctoral dissertations Environmental Customers, distributors, Legislation is the focus point Various geographic scopes are and academic articles legislation and taxes producers, recyclers, suppliers, Consumers are also key actors to be taken into consideration: or lecture papers Environmental competitors, innovators, to scan: academic sources point from local initiatives and guidelines investors, external consultants, out the important role played by speciﬁcities to national level, EU Professional best banks, public opinion downstream actors and international governments practices or guidelines All modes of government Authors insist on the Necessity to start from the Recycling technologies controls, policy makers and importance of local level concrete chains, the Cultural and political regulators decision-making and action conﬁguration of actors dimensions Non-business partners: As far as legislation and rules Economic, environmental environmental agencies, NGOs, are concerned, both public and and social parameters social advocates, community private environmental domains Rising transparency representatives, safety are to be considered:, e.g. private Social awareness advocates, activists groups, initiatives for self-regulation, Demography associations voluntary agreements; from State (and prices) of Actors from outside the published laws to good natural resources industry practices, labels and brands Research and Need to examine actors, their development inputs, throughputs, outputs, their strategies (new entrants, role of TPL, contracts relations, alliances) Awareness of relations between actors and the dynamics of their evolution Necessary awareness of temporal effects (continued) Sustainable supply chains meta-table ﬁeld data – a recap Main results from the Table III. 237 41,3 238 Table III. IJPDLM Scanning “lenses Scope of scanning Targeting approaches in the scanning process Prioritization among scanning Advice regarding the scanning Information sources Environmental domains Actors targets process Consulting reports Economic: new markets Customers, consumers Legislation and consumer Governments or regulatory and new economic Competitors: emphasis on other requirements bodies must be scanned at balance experiences and experiments, Importance of consumer different levels: local, national Resources: sustainability green strategies others have behavior: more demanding, and international. and scarcity implemented more empowered. Increasingly Flows of products, waste Changing demographics Watchdog organizations: NGOs interacting, calling for Companies should collaborate to Legislation and changing and activists Investors alternative distribution modes encourage governments to enact regulatory forces Governments One problem has been noticed: appropriate regulations Techniques: tools and Associations the difﬁculty to choose “how to Individual manager level: new metrics broaden” the scope of scanning capabilities (for addressing the innovation potential and collaboration opportunities) Need to take into account corporate collective initiatives, isolated initiative and the ability to spread them among other actors Need for pragmatic views on sustainability Primary sources (continued) Scanning “lenses Scope of scanning Targeting approaches in the scanning process Prioritization among scanning Advice regarding the scanning Information sources Environmental domains Actors targets process Interviews of experts Environmental and Competitors, customers, media, Local level is considered as Importance of geographic general legislation local governments and fundamental localization Technologies and intermediary actors (e.g. TPL) Clients and legislation are Emphasis on group leaders’ techniques NGOs, associations explicitly mentioned as the key attitudes towards sustainable Social issues and New or emerging actors: from domains to scan development collective economics the social economy for example Prioritizations are said to spontaneous approaches Politics Collective organizations depend on the ﬁrm’s position in Interdependencies between the SC; whether it is a producer, national and international (EU) or a distributor legislations to detect discrepancies relations between actors (cooperation and transparency within the SC) Need to examine concrete situations and solutions Need to scan the people level (sustainability awareness, sustainability championship in ﬁrms[etc.]) Taking into account the ﬂow of products and wastes (volume, origin, destinations) Sustainable supply chains Table III. 239 IJPDLM up the ﬁrst draft of our sustainable scanning framework, a conceptual framework that will 41,3 have to be validated and strengthened through further empirical studies. 4.2 Scanning at multi-and interrelated levels The ﬁrst and probably paramount conclusion reached from our ﬁeld materials highlights the need to combine multi-level inter-related analyses, considering potential 240 developments, evolutions, changes and/or innovations: . In the environment as a whole (this would include a societal level). . In the network of embedded supply chains. . In the studied supply chain of the focal ﬁrm (“long-term sustainability is not a ﬁrm but rather a supply chain issue involving all downstream and upstream players” (Sigala, 2008, p. 1589)) including non-business partners and characterized by relations, contracts, alliances between ﬁrms. . In ﬁrms conﬁguration, strategies and evolution. . In the dynamics of the logistics and SCM functions dealing with ﬂows and activities within ﬁrms and with their partners. . In the attitudes and beliefs of supply chain managers and people. It is interesting to note that experts and consultants’ reports have brought to light the individual level of the scanning process, ignored by academics in our ﬁeld study. “The sustainable development strategy of the group is important, but more important is the orientation of the people” (P1) since people must be both authors and actors of the changes and innovations needed to face up to sustainable issues. These different levels of analysis are in line with the deep and broad perspective of SCM and the “ultimate supply chain” framework; they appear in the different kinds of sources we analyzed (see the Appendix 1) and are shown by Figure 1 (Section 4.6). 4.3 Scanning with a network perspective While environmental scanning mainly refers to a focal company, our research shows that a single company cannot exert inﬂuence over the complex and uncertain issues of sustainable development. “Sustainable development issues can’t be grasped at ﬁrm level only! That will be useless and incongruous” (P5). Therefore, to tackle sustainable supply chains issues, a company must collaborate with the network of ﬁrms it is embedded in, with governments or regulatory bodies, and making the most of every competence and resource available. This network level applies to the SCM highest degree of complexity and suggests considering new scanning targets such as: new intermediaries, new roles, new network structures, etc. “We must be aware of initiatives coming from original or unseen associations (private and public) or organizations (P6)”. “It is important to watch leading companies” behaviors since their demands propagate in their network” (E2). 4.4 Looking for a new target approach The third important result is that scanning for sustainable supply chain design substantiates combining standard targets (with a clear emphasis upon some of them, see Section 4.4.) with a new way of considering interactions between factors. First of all, we can note the enduring validity of considering “general” and “task” environment, Scanning scope Ability to cope Sustainable for the focal firm with supply chains Societal level sustainable requirements Sustainable scanning Network level = the new 241 focal level Chain level Scope breadth Firm level Environmental Function level Scope depth scanning People level The societal level includes many aspects (legislation, social, economical, environmental, political, technological) Every level relevant for scanning Levels are inter-related The supply chain concerned by a potential redesign A firm participating in the supply chain A managerial function Other supply chains that are potentially concerned Interactions between factors belonging to different scanning levels Figure 1. Scanning scope: depth (how many levels are included) and The sustainable scanning breath (how large is the scanning at each level). framework as was observed in scanning literature. Our ﬁeld material conﬁrms the need to scan various environmental components (such as economic or political forces) and actors shaping the industry (customers or suppliers, for example). However, structuring scanning with the aforementioned levels (Section 4.2.) evinces the need to pay attention IJPDLM to untraditional factors related to SCM and networking issues such as power forces 41,3 (see for example in Table III, explicit mention of the potential role of the industry leader in sustainable spread off), standards (notably the importance of “best practices”, or professional commitments that can pre-empt regulations), dependencies, resources and competences, etc. Moreover, when considering relationships between levels, new factors emerge. For example, linking societal and network levels requires thinking about 242 public-private interactions, e.g. organizational support for collective sustainable strategies, public infrastructures investments (e.g. urban platforms for waste management). Conversely, private initiatives “for self-regulation may be the ﬁrst realistic step to take until national and international government organizations can become involved” (De Man and Burns, 2006). “Most of the innovative projects we work on today are developed in inter-organizational working groups that include public actors” (P1). Thus, some original scanning targets (Table IV) are surfacing, signaling the variety of actors involved in sustainable development issues (non-business actors such as activists, NGOs, associations at a local, national or worldwide levels, or actors coming from outside the industry – , i.e. originating from network level). This is a far cry from a restricted view of industry structure. 4.5 Changing scanning priorities Our fourth result is that sustainable development requirements are likely to modify the prioritization of scanning. In the environmental scanning literature, the “general” environment is mainly used to draw development hypotheses, while the “task” or “immediate” environment is considered as more uncertain and thus more important to scan (Daft et al., 1988; Xu et al., 2003). Here, on the contrary, the societal level appears to be the most important one, as it concerns the highest level of uncertainty and the most important drivers for sustainable SCM. Legislation, whose power has already been conﬁrmed with regard to implementation of environmental policies (Seitz, 2006), becomes one of the primary drivers with customer pressure (Prahinski and Kocabasoglu, 2006). Both academics and professionals point out the importance of scanning the legislation (“First of all, we must scan the regulations!” (P3)), whatever its geographic origin (local, national, and EU levels) or its formal degree (laws, standards, labels): see Table III. The second clear priority comes from the downstream part of the chain and returns to clients: customers and consumers, their awareness, commitments, expectations about sustainable supply chain issues. Again, this result vindicates an “ultimate supply chain” approach. Less attention is paid to “technology”, again suggesting a change in scanning priorities: according to experts, innovations rely more on organization than on technological solutions: technology is a trap that often generates other nuisances (P5). 4.6 Building a sustainable scanning framework Our research moves “forward to the systemic issues that exist at the intersection of sustainability, environmental management and supply chains” (Linton et al., 2007, p. 1075) and complements the scanning literature while providing the outline of a sustainable scanning framework (shown by Figure 1 with related targets mentioned in Table IV) whose further validation should help companies scan their environments to maintain or develop sustainable supply chains. As mentioned in Figure 1, our sustainable scanning framework includes and goes beyond the scanning literature models, while promoting multi-level analysis Sustainable Level Sustainable scanning targets supply chains Societal level Regulations (international, European, governmental, local or import countries’): projects, changes, implementation (uncertainty on temporality, coherence and controls), types and terms of control/ sanction, related taxes and incentives (e.g. eco-label) from environmental or other types of legislation 243 New markets and new economic balances (global vs local sourcing) Changing demography: phenomenon of urbanization, “greying” Institutions’ strategies: promote collective actions; take on activities (or not), promote sustainable guidelines by means of public-purchasing directives Industrial professional group and trade union activities Ecological organizations, socially or environmentally involved NGOs, lobbies, watchdogs organizations, agencies activities and positions Behaviors and opinions (pressure, demands, awareness, scrutiny) of people (namely consumers, workers, citizens or investors) and of public authorities Inﬂuence of quotation agencies (ex: Dow Jones sustainability index), of insurers or lenders Value of raw materials and energy (geopolitical phenomena, resources scarcity[etc.]) Logistics infrastructures development: ports regionalization, modal shifts, green transport corridors, investments along thematic clusters Public or private initiatives promoting sustainable research and development programs, new technology development improving the sustainability of operations (e.g. in transport) Network level ¼ the new Collective development of labels, standards, norms, best practices focal level databases, existing guidelines, voluntary agreements, and private sectors initiatives for self-regulation Ability to undertake lobbying activities targeting institutions Network structure (number of echelons and links, relationships) Role of new actors in network governance: local authorities or government, social and trade associations, spontaneous collaborative organizations, new intermediaries, non-business partners, external consultants Partnerships to develop common sustainable solutions, pioneering experiences Chain level Roles of actors in chains, ability to take the leadership in sustainable projects New actors, new activities, new use of resources Competitors’ green strategies Development of alliances (horizontal, vertical), collaborative practices, instantaneous information sharing via Internet aiming at improving supply chain sustainability Information systems to better evaluate physical ﬂows (ex: in reverse logistics) and chain sustainability (ex: carbon footprint) Firm level Firm’s maturity in logistics, SCM and sustainable development thinking Individual strategy of ﬁrms: resources, competences, and activities Table IV. development aiming at improving supply chain sustainability Main sustainable Supply of professional services by companies (ex: logistics services) scanning targets at each (continued) level of the analysis IJPDLM Level Sustainable scanning targets 41,3 Free-riding and opportunistic attitudes regarding the demands of sustainability (e.g. in matters of CO2 emissions reduction) Willingness to introduce new technologies or tools to improve performance analysis related to sustainable development 244 Function level Technologies (recycling, alternative distribution modes [shopping from home, in store, on the go, etc.]), know-how Experimentation of pilot supply-chain solutions, technical innovations in logistics or manufacturing Resources and competencies of the ﬁrm, cultural context and environmental representations SC manager and people level Personal sustainable development and supply chain orientation Personal scanning orientation and practice Leadership in the company, the chain or the network (promoting new ideas, innovative frameworks or experiences and driving change at all Table IV. levels) and stressing the importance of cooperation between ﬁrms to develop sustainable scanning. It also highlights the broad and deep dimensions of the scanning scope. To deﬁne sustainable scanning frameworks, Figure 1 and Table IV specify the different levels of the scanning scope and must be considered as a whole. Table IV points at each scanning level and for each environmental domain or actor (e.g. legislation, consumers), the sustainable parameters or interdependencies potentially worth scanning. As mentioned in Section 4.1, Table IV presents for every level of the scanning framework every sustainable scanning target that has been found in the case studies or mentioned by experts. This contribution cannot be considered as a list to be systematically checked when scanning at the different levels, but it could be used as a preliminary guideline to build a list of relevant targets. It shows the variety of parameters that are (and can be) considered and how “classic” scanning targets can be contextualized to look for information useful for sustainable supply chain design. The sustainable scanning framework we propose provides some outputs and encloses its own usage rules. Our proposals ﬁrst depart from the organization to the network, thus allowing the identiﬁcation of “outliers” (Patton, 2004), “changes coming from outside” while scanning literature approaches mainly seek “drivers of change in the industry” (Huffman, 2004). As Slaughter stated (1999, p. 446) the “world of reference that interests us [. . .] is not monolithic but layered and that different ‘layers’ reveal different phenomena”. We claim that scanning beneﬁts from systemic thinking, and that “systemic models are important to anchor scanning exercises” (Tonn, 2008, p. 606) insofar as, when trying achieve greater sustainability, a “holistic approach is needed to face the problem that takes into account the relationship among all the stakeholder’s” (Bala et al., 2008, p. 1610). Second, our framework expands the nature of boundaries. Our sustainable scanning framework calls for exploring the importance of the territory boundary related to the spatial area of logistics activities; besides the obvious relevance of global issues (for example, “the international ﬂow of wastes”, Tsoulfas et al., 2002, p. 152) it is worth pointing out “a neglect of local speciﬁcities to a large extent” (De Man and Burns, 2006, p. 2). Local dimensions are to be considered insofar as “a regional effect should be expected as a result of the different levels of environmental laws and environmental awareness of Sustainable local consumers and business managers” (Prahinski and Kocabasoglu, 2006, p. 529). In the supply chains same way, we notice changes in temporal boundaries: signiﬁcant impacts and government regulations could last for months or even years, while others were “adopted worldwide over a relatively short timeframe” (Linton et al., 2007, p. 1077). Finally, scanning at network level could help forecasting the removal of boundaries between contemporary business activities insomuch as non-business actors play an important part, and actors 245 from outside the boundaries of the industry can highly inﬂuence the ﬁrm’s sustainable behavior (Seitz, 2006). Our research (in particular the analysis of the data from primary and secondary sources) also revealed the relationships between people’s representations of their supply chains(s), of the network they are embedded in and of their environment, as well as their scanning practices. To deﬁne scanning, we adopt Holmen and Pedersen’s (2003, p. 409) statement on strategizing: [. . .] the ability of a ﬁrm to achieve this depends to a large extent on how well a ﬁrm is able to ‘read’ the network – where it is and in which directions it is moving. This, in turn, depends on the ﬁrm’s network horizon – the part of the network that a ﬁrm is aware of and thereby can take into account. In line with this perceptual issue, the framework we propose constitutes an interpretation itself. We thus recommend using it “for clarity, to cover and include phenomena (or actors) that are omitted within more limited frames” (Slaughter, 1999, p. 447) because, as noted before, “the information uncertainty of supply chains makes it impossible to trade-off among goals and constraints within an unchanged model” (Zhou et al., 2000, p. 1151). Yet, we do not claim that our framework substitutes other tools and we would prefer – after further empirical study, as requested, has vindicated its validity – combining it “with more ‘horizontal’ methods to reconcile both breadth and depth” as Slaughter (1999, p. 450) suggested. 5. Conclusion Focusing on sustainable supply chains leads us to apply a (systemic) gaze, looking at phenomena from a new angle of perception thus urging scanners to develop a vision “beyond established categories” (Neugarten, 2006 p. 903), to explore “new alternatives and challenge the status quo way of thinking” (Veﬂen Olsen and Sallis, 2006, p. 51). Thus, our sustainable scanning framework balances the “research fails to recognise SCM’s role for further analysing sustainability issues” (Sigala, 2008, p. 1590) and draw up several results: they provide an early conceptual answer to our research questions (Sections 1 and 2), and lay out its managerial implications for managers confronted with sustainable development issues who need to scan their environment before redesigning their supply chain. We asked what companies should scan for in their supply chain environments and, more precisely, what should be the scope, the targets and the orientation of a sustainable scanning process. Based on our results (Section 4), we promote a wide, multi-level, scanning scope (Section 4.2) and suggest that “sustainable scanning” cannot rely on a single organization given that it has proved necessary to scan at network level with a supply chain orientation (Section 4.3.). Scanning people’s attitudes, orientations and creativity (and their evolution) is part of the scope (Section 4.2). Besides, to improve sustainable scanning, we recommend combining standard targets with new ones and considering interactions leading IJPDLM to the emergence of new actors and factors to scan (Section 4.4). Finally, we observed that 41,3 sustainable developments modify scanning priorities (Section 4.5). We propose a draft for a sustainable scanning framework (Section 4.6) that complements existing models while pointing out puzzling issues related to territory and temporal boundaries. Those will have to be taken into account, while individual representation and scanning practices need to improve. 246 From a more theoretical point of view, the sustainable scanning framework offers part of a new scanning methodology promoting a scanning orientation using more adaptable and ﬂexible practices, together with a supply chain orientation (Mentzer et al., 2001), thus complementing the scanning literature. The ﬁndings concerning the boundaries of the scanning scope (Section 4.6) have theoretical implications for SCM research: geographic, temporal and activity boundaries as well as matters of supply chain and network representation have proved relevant, thus questioning the units of analysis in SCM research. In line with the IMP perspective, by rejecting the idea of natural boundaries (networks are borderless), it is important to argue in favor of setting up the arbitrary boundaries (or levels of analysis) to be used in SCM. This implication is in line with Holmen and Pedersen’s (2003) distinction between the network context (the part of the network that the actor considers relevant), the network horizon (comprising those other ﬁrms and relationships a focal ﬁrm is aware of – whether or not it considers them relevant) and the environment, that begins when the horizon ends. As for the network context, the scanning scope is thus a matter of the ﬁrm’s (or the researcher’s) “choice of perspective”, which is in turn related to the ﬁrm’s (or the researcher’s) cognitive process. This is a ﬁrst stage of a research program dedicated to scanning for sustainable supply chain design. It undoubtedly presents some limitations. First, we have chosen to focus on environmental scanning, a research trend in strategic management, dealing with the collection of relevant external data within the ﬁrm’s environment (Section 1). To determine the nature of the information suitable for scanning, we could also have explored corporate environmental management literature or research trends addressing the strategic orientation of the ﬁrms with regards to its supply chain or environment (supply strategy, strategic renewal or stakeholders’ theory for example) and presenting more recent approaches. Second, to widen our ﬁeld material, we could have used other PhD dissertations from other countries and extended our research to other academic papers databases, along with interviewing more experts. Unsurprisingly, our ﬁeld investigations mostly return to the “ecological” dimension of sustainable development, due to clear research focalization on that sustainable pillar (as mentioned by Seuring and ¨ Muller, 2008) and to experts’ deeper awareness on these themes. Finally, the framework we propose is more a methodology than a tool, so Table IV can be considered as lacking in operationalization. This research has enabled us to generate a framework for future research. Future research should involve several stages which are needed to validate the usefulness of this conceptual framework so as to come up with managerial guidelines. First, the framework needs to be compared with existing day-to-day sustainable scanning practices and operations, through case studies and surveys conducted in companies that want to redesign their supply chains to face up to (or take advantage of) sustainability requirements. The discrepancies between framework and practices will then be analyzed and discussed with managers and experts distributed in focus groups. The usefulness of the suggestions as to changing the scope, the targets and their Sustainable prioritization, as well as the role of people in scanning practices, could be tested through supply chains action research. Thanks to such in-depth approach of sustainable scanning practices bearing on actual sustainable SCM topics will also permit to answer questions such as: how can companies cover such a deep and broad scope of scanning? In order to draw a “big and relevant picture”, is it possible to develop collaborative scanning practices within a supply chain or a company network? Can we develop tools or methods to 247 analyze interactions between factors and “read” the overall picture provided by the scanning results? Does the framework improve people’s representation of their company’s supply chain and network, and does it incite them to contribute to scanning operations? Are time and space boundaries issues useful to focus and prioritize scanning? Future ﬁeld research could also explore further research avenues related to the determining factors for scanning practices. 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Corresponding author Nathalie Fabbe-Costes can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: email@example.com Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints IJPDLM Appendix 41,3 Editor Title Category Pages Year Accenture Sustainable supply chain Survey 8 2009 Accenture Sustainable supply chain: Document 252 creating value through sustainable packaging 7 2009 Accenture Sustainable supply chain: a tool SCM viewpoint 12 2008 for reinforcing shareholder value ATKearney Chain reaction Survey 9 2007 ATKearney Green winners Survey 19 2009 Bearing Point Green supply chain White book 53 2008 Booz, Allen and Environmental sustainability as a Reports and studies 19 2008 Hamilton driver for competitiveness Boston Sustainability and competitive Special report in MIT Sloan 7 Consulting advantage Management Review Group Cap Gemini 2016: future supply chain Report 52 2008 Cap Gemini/US The state of logistics outsourcing 13th Annual Study 40 2008 LLUC McKinsey Climate change and SCM The McKinsey Quaterly 3 2008 PRTM A blue print for green PRTM insights 9 2008 PRTM Burt’s bees: green for good PRTM insights 8 2008 Price The sustainability agenda Publication 22 2008 Waterhouse Table AI. Coopers AI Sustainable supply Supply Chain Logistics: sustainability Survey 6 2008 chain consulting reports Consulting champion or laggard?