Sustainable and responsible supply chain governance: challenges and opportunities

M. Boström*, A.M. Jönsson, S. Lockie, A.P.J. Mol, P.J.M. Oosterveer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

152 Citations (Scopus)


This paper introduces the Special Volume on sustainable and responsible supply chain governance. As globalized supply chains cross multiple regulatory borders, the firms involved in these chains come under increasing pressure from consumers, NGOs and governments to accept responsibility for social and environmental matters beyond their immediate organizational boundaries. Governance arrangements for global supply chains are therefore increasingly faced with sustainability requirements of production and consumption. Our primary objectives for this introductory paper are to explore the governance challenges that globalized supply chains and networks face in becoming sustainable and responsible, and thence to identify opportunities for promoting sustainable and responsible governance. In doing so, we draw on 16 articles published in this Special Volume of the Journal of Cleaner Production as well as upon the broader sustainable supply chain governance literature. We argue that the border-crossing nature of global supply chains comes with six major challenges (or gaps) in sustainability governance and that firms and others attempt to address these using a range of tools including eco-labels, codes of conduct, auditing procedures, product information systems, procurement guidelines, and eco-branding. However, these tools are not sufficient, by themselves, to bridge the geographical, informational, communication, compliance, power and legitimacy gaps that challenge sustainable global chains. What else is required? The articles in this Special Volume suggest that coalition and institution building on a broader scale is essential through, for example, the development of inclusive multi-stakeholder coalitions; flexibility to adapt global governance arrangements to local social and ecological contexts of production and consumption; supplementing effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms with education and other programs to build compliance capacity; and integration of reflexive learning to improve governance arrangements over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • CSR
  • Environment
  • Global production network
  • Globalization
  • Value chain


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