Impact of Social Sustainability Orientation and Supply Chain Practices on Operational Performance

Natalia Vidal, Simon Croom, Wellington Spetic, Donna Marshall, Lucy McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Socially-sustainable supply chain (SSSC) practices address pressing social issues and may provide operational benefits as well as positive impacts on society. However, due to gaps in our current knowledge, it is difficult to know what practices will provide benefits and what management orientations can maximize the impact of these practices on operational performance. This paper advances our knowledge on the effect of social sustainability orientation on operational performance by examining the mediating roles of basic and advanced SSSC practices and the moderating role of long-term orientation.Design/methodology/approach – Data was collected through a survey of United States (US)- based companies about their relationships with key suppliers. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and multiple regression were used to test the proposed moderated mediation model. Findings – Surprisingly, sustainability orientation predicts operational performance through advanced but not basic SSSC practices. Results also indicate that the effect of sustainability orientation on operational performance is significantly moderated by long-term orientation.Research limitations – Results are limited by the US context, the cross-sectional nature of the research, the use of a single-respondent survey instrument and the challenges of measuring long term orientation. Practical implications – Managers and policymakers should be aware of the limitations of adopting basic SSSC practices on the performance of their operations. Advanced practices provide a more robust business case and significantly and positively impact operational performance. In addition, the interaction of a sustainability orientation and long-term orientation can lead to even greater improvements in firms’ operational performance. Firms with the highest levels of social sustainability and long-term orientations attain superior operational performance.Originality/Value- This study contributes to the growing literature on sustainable supply chain management and extends this literature by focusing on social sustainability practices, identifying specific practices that impact and the orientations that maximize operational performance. We contribute to the growing literature on the importance of manager’s temporal orientation and provide nuance to emerging sustainable supply chain management theory by exposing the interplay of these orientations and the impact of SSSC practice adoption.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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