Sustainability management in supply chains: the role of familiness

Morgane Fritz*, Salomée Ruel, Andreas Kallmuenzer, Rainer Harms

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
554 Downloads (Pure)


The development and management of sustainable supply chains is a practical and academic challenge. Considering that, globally, most firms are family businesses, this study explores the role that their unique familiness plays in the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability in supply chains. Family businesses emphasize a long-term perspective, social responsibility, and ecological awareness. Findings from a comparative study of twelve cases of six family and six non-family businesses demonstrate that sustainability concerns differ at the upstream, focal-firm, and downstream firm levels. These differences are explored from an institutional theory perspective and arise because of several coercive, normative, and mimetic pressures. We argue that, at the upstream level, family businesses tend to accentuate social concerns.In contrast, non-family businesses pay much less attention to social concerns. Within the firm, family businesses give weight to all three sustainability dimensions. In comparison, non-family businesses downplay the social dimension in favor of the environmental dimension. Downstream, family businesses address similar sustainability dimensions as non-family businesses. Such differences are due to institutional pressures, especially the firm's culture, values, and top management involvement. There are specific practical implications concerning the role that family businesses can play in making supply chains more sustainable
Original languageEnglish
Article number121078
Number of pages12
JournalTechnological forecasting and social change
Early online date9 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Sustainability Supply chain management Family business Institutional theory Pressures Stakeholders
  • 22/1 OA procedure


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