A review of sustainability trade-offs affecting suppliers in developed and less developed countries

Alka Ashwini Nand, Raveen Menon, Ananya Bhattacharya, Ran Bhamra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the current state of research on sustainability-related manufacturing trade-offs (i.e. giving preference and priority to one dimension over others) that affect suppliers in developed and less developed countries (LDCs). There is growing pressure on suppliers to adopt sustainable practices into their global supply chains. Successfully implementing all three dimensions of the triple bottom line (TBL) imperative can provide organizations with an added capability and potentially result in competitive advantage and a focus on sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the long run. However, designing supply chains for achieving the TBL requires suppliers to recognize and overcome numerous trade-offs. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review comprising 71 papers published between 2004 and 2020 was undertaken using a content analysis approach to identify trade-offs affecting suppliers. Findings: This study firstly identified eight sustainability-related trade-offs affecting suppliers from a TBL perspective in both developed and LDCs, consequently, allowing for a detailed discussion on trade-off factors and conditions unique to both developed and LDCs. Together, these findings enable this study to present initiatives and investment-related decisions for supply chains from a TBL perspective. Originality/value: In spite of the plethora of studies on sustainable supply chains, there is little research on trade-offs, specifically those affecting sustainability of suppliers operating in LDCs. This paper addresses this critical gap and advances the literature on sustainability-related supply chain trade-offs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-483
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Business & Industrial Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2023


  • Suppliers
  • Sustainable supply chains
  • Systematic literature review
  • Trade-offs
  • Triple bottom line

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