Green and lean supply chain
Firms in the twenty-first century are grappling with a constantly changing world. Three supply chain trends in particular are converging to create an increasingly complex business environment: a move towards green initiatives, the utilization of lean processes, and globalization. The globalization of supply chains involves dimensions such as offshoring of production, inventories, suppliers and customers, and differences in economies, infrastructures, cultures, and politics in the competitive environment (Manuj and Mentzer, 2008; Schmidt and Wilhelm, 2000; Christopher, 2005). Globalization may enable increased revenue generation through entry to new markets and may provide access to suppliers that can provide materials and inputs more efficiently than domestic sources. There has also been an increasing trend for The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0960-0035.htm
All authors contributed equally to the preparation and submission of this paper and are listed in alphabetical order.
firms to shift operations from the host country to lower cost geographies to reduce manufacturing costs.
Lean supply chain strategies focus on waste reduction, helping firms eliminate non-value adding activities related to excess time, labor, equipment, space, and inventories across the supply chain (Corbett and Klassen, 2006). Such strategies enable firms to improve quality, reduce costs, and improve service to customers as traditional batch and queue mass production and supply chain approaches are transformed (Larson and Greenwood, 2004). Lean practices are becoming increasingly difficult to implement and sustain as supply chains increase in complexity and length. Green supply chain strategies refer to efforts to minimize the negative impact of firms and their supply chains on the natural environment. In the wake of concerns regarding climate change, pollution, and non-renewable resource constraints, firms are heeding stakeholder demands regarding corporate citizenship behavior and performance (Sarkis, 2001; deBurgos Jime´nez and Ce´spedes Lorente, 2001).Agreen supply chain focus requires working with suppliers and customers, analysis of internal operations and processes, environmental considerations in the product development process, and extended stewardship across products’ life-cycles (Corbett and Klassen, 2006; Mollenkopf, 2006). While there are separate streams of established research on green, lean, and global issues, few authors have addressed the intersection of these strategic initiatives. This is a critical oversight because firms may be missing synergies available through improved concurrent implementation; they may also be failing to address important trade-offs that may arise when there are incompatibilities between strategic initiatives. For example, lean and green strategies are often seen as compatible initiatives because of their joint focus on waste reduction. When lean initiatives enable only demanded volumes to flow through the supply chain (and not the safety stock and extra inventory assocated with non-lean supply chains), a reduced amount of inventory needs to be sourced, produced, transported, packaged and handled, which also minimizes the negative environmental impact of the supply chain. However, lean strategies that employ just-in-time (JIT) delivery of small lot sizes can require increased transportation, packaging, and handling that may contradict a green approach. By recognizing this conflict, firms may be able to identify trade-offs or develop solutions that mitigate undesirable consequences. In the example just presented, firms that recognize the negative environmental impact of the pure JIT approach may consider reusable packaging and containers or adapt the lot-size to optimize cube utilization during transportation as a means to achieve both lean and green objectives. This example, while simplistic, is...
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