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The institutional logic of the sustainable organisation: the case of a chocolate supply network

McLoughlin, Kate and Meehan, Joanne (2021) The institutional logic of the sustainable organisation: the case of a chocolate supply network. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. ISSN 0144-3577

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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine how, and by whom, institutional logics are determined in the action of sustainable organisation. The authors analyse a supply chain network structure to understand how multiple stakeholders' perceptions of sustainability emerge into a dominant logic and diffuse across an organisational field. Design/methodology/approach Stakeholder network theory provides novel insights into emerging logics within a chocolate supply chain network. Semi-structured interviews with 35 decision-makers were analysed alongside 269 company documents to capture variations in emergent logics. The network was mapped to include 63 nodes and 366 edges to analyse power structure and mechanisms. Findings The socio-economic organising principles of sustainable organisation, their sources of power and their logics are identified. Economic and social logics are revealed, yet the dominance of economic logics creates risks to their coexistence. Logics are largely shaped in pre-competitive activities, and resource fitness to collaborative clusters limits access for non-commercial actors. Research limitations/implications Powerful firms use network structures and collaborative and concurrent inter-organisational relationships to define and diffuse their conceptualisation of sustainability and restrict competing logics. Originality/value This novel study contributes to sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) through presenting the socio-economic logic as a new conceptual framework to understand the action of sustainable organisation. The identification of sophisticated mechanisms of power and hegemonic control in the network opens new research agendas.

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