QChain - integrating social, environmental and economic value: a tool to support innovation in production chains

A. Kassahun, E. du Chatenier, P.W.G. Bots, Gert Jan Hofstede, J.M. Bloemhof, H. Scholten, S. Korver, A.J.M. Beulens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Today's consumers increasingly demand products that are produced sustainably and ethically. As a result, businesses need to address sustainability and social responsibility issues and find a proper balance between people, planet and profit (PPP) aspects of their production chains. Software tools can play an important role in mapping out the current state of PPP aspects along the production chain, and in the design and evaluation of improvement options. There are indeed many tools that are claimed to be useful for sustainability and social responsibility considerations. Yet, a tool that addresses all three aspects of value creation holistically and facilitates discussion is missing. In this paper we present the development of such a tool, called QChain. The development of this tool was based on ideas from soft systems methodology and inputs from a multidisciplinary team of experts and managers. The tool is intended to support group discussions, particularly during the early stages of innovation processes aimed at improving PPP aspects of production chains. It enables users to visualize the essential elements of the current production chain showing the current PPP values, and explore and compare possible future production chain scenarios and the corresponding PPP values. QChain's visualization helps discussants get a rich appreciation of the current and future scenarios, while the semi-quantitative 'what-if' analysis and scenario comparison enables them to hold objective discussions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
JournalJournal on Chain and Network Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • corporate social responsibility
  • innovation support
  • production chains
  • soft systems methodology
  • sustainability


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