Strategic Barriers and Operational Risks in Sustainable Supply Chain Management in the Indian Context: A Grey Relational Analysis Approach

Strategic Barriers and Operational Risks in Sustainable Supply Chain Management in the Indian Context: A Grey Relational Analysis Approach

R. Sridharan (National Institute of Technology Calicut, India), E. N. Anilkumar (National Institute of Technology Calicut, India) and C. R. Vishnu (National Institute of Technology Calicut, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5424-0.ch014
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Research on sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) has attracted increased attention in the recent years all over the world. Unlike an ordinary supply chain, sustainable supply chains confront two major hurdles in the planning as well as in the operational stage, namely barriers and risks. Barriers are usually associated with technical, economic, and marketing infeasibilities, whereas risks induce disruptions and uncertainties. These factors demotivate the organizations from adopting sustainable practices in supply chain operations. The chapter consolidates the significant barriers and risk factors influential in the current Indian business environment. The analysis is based on the expert survey conducted in the South Indian manufacturing sector. Furthermore, the above barriers are ranked utilizing the grey relational analysis method in an intuitionistic fuzzy setting. Finally, the effects of the risk factors induced by sustainable practices are also discussed to facilitate selection of proactive strategies for the success of sustainable business in India.
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Supply chain activities involve the transformation of natural resources, raw materials, and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer. Supply chains are critical links that connect an organization’s inputs to its outputs. Wieland et al. (2011) have defined supply chain as a complex and dynamic supply and demand network. Maintaining the pre-determined levels of fill rate, market share and customer satisfaction without compromising the cost aspects are the traditional challenges of every supply chains. To achieve these goals, global supply chains are seeking strategies to achieve capabilities such as flexibility and reliability in their business operations to allow a better reaction to business challenges. In addition, the increasing environmental costs of these networks and growing consumer pressure for eco-friendly products have led many organizations to look at supply chain sustainability as the new measure of profitable logistics management (Hardcastle, 2016).

Various studies have reported that Asian countries like India and China are transforming as the prominent manufacturing hubs of many global industries by leveraging the availability of relatively inexpensive human resources and affordable production costs. This migration of business activities from developed nations will create substantial environmental issues and social problems in these developing countries (Luthra, Garg, & Haleem, 2015). As a result, India is facing an increasing demand for materials and energy. This exerts pressure on natural resources such as land, water, mineral resources and fossil fuels (Bhanot, Rao, & Deshmukh, 2015). The findings from the study undertaken by World Economic Forum along with Yale University and Columbia University on Environmental Performance Index (EPI) are worth noting in this context. According to the report, India’s EPI ranking for 2018 has dropped from 141 (out of 180 countries) to 177, hitting rock bottom. Consequently, the concepts and implementation of sustainable practices in India are gaining momentum.

However, the literature review has shown that there exist several types of obstacles or barriers to implement sustainable practices in a supply chain. A proper understanding of these barriers/risk factors that apply to Indian scenario is very much essential. Since the concept of sustainability implementation is in its infant stage in India, knowledge of various types of barriers that one may come across during the implementation stage of sustainable practices will enable the management to adopt appropriate precautionary measures. Thus, this chapter aims at presenting a prioritization framework for supply chain barriers and risks. The chapter also provides the corresponding mitigation strategies that can be implemented to facilitate and motivate the up-gradation of ordinary supply chains to sustainable supply chains.

The chapter is organized as follows. The subsequent section articulates the significant literature that contributed to the area of sustainable supply chain risk management (SSCRM). This section also provides a state-of-the-art meta-analytic literature review that consolidates the results and inferences from 63 research articles in the area of SSCRM to justify the background for the present research. Intuitionistic fuzzy approach and grey relational analysis methodology utilized in the present research are presented in the next section. Subsequently, the procedure adopted for the ranking of the barriers/risk factors and results obtained are illustrated, followed by managerial implications and inferences. Risks induced by sustainable practices and its significance are discussed as an anecdote to this chapter. Finally, conclusions are presented in the last section along with the scope for future research.

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