Government interventions in sustainable supply chain management in Chinese private enterprises : An institutional and contingency analysis

Tan, Xiaoyue and Brown, David and Bell, Marta (2020) Government interventions in sustainable supply chain management in Chinese private enterprises : An institutional and contingency analysis. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) is an evolving discipline that combines the environmental and social performance dimensions of sustainability with the traditional measures of economic performance in supply chain management. Extant literature on SSCM indicates that government institutional pressure has significant influence on the implementation of SSCM practices in industries. The institutional policy and regulatory context for SSCM in China represents a relevant research focus due to the institutional complexity and the scale and scope of the environmental and social regulations and policies being implemented in China. This thesis further recognises the need for academic research to focus on the Chinese private sector by investigating the implementation of SSCM practices amongst Chinese private enterprises to understand how and why they respond differently to government interventions and the potential contribution to developing more effective policy instruments for SSCM implementation in China. A multiple case study method has been employed, and the research focuses on seven Chinese private enterprises of different sizes and sectors – with primary data collected from a series of semi-structured interviews and supported by secondary data gathered from company visits, publication and archival data. A combination of institutional and contingency theoretical lenses has been applied to inform the analysis. The research has several novel findings. First, by examining the implementation levels of key SSCM dimensions in the seven case companies, the study has identified four SSCM profiles, namely, beginner, practitioner, satisfier and leader. These four SSCM profiles are largely associated with companies’ characteristics including firm size and industrial sector. Second, the investigation of regulations and polices employed by the Chinese government has not only confirmed the six types of intervention actions proposed by King et al. (1994), but also expanded King’s work by evaluating the effectiveness of different types of government interventions, i.e. regulatory and influential interventions, in the context of a developing country. Third, this research has conceptualised and examined the moderating effects of contingency factors on the effectiveness of government interventions. The findings indicate that the way in which government interventions are translated into specific SSCM practices within a focal company and along the supply chain is contingent on firm size, industry and government-corporate relationship. This helps explain why companies with different SSCM profiles have shown varied responses to government interventions, for example, SSCM beginners and practitioners are mainly driven by the compliance with regulations to implement basic and compulsory SSCM practices, while satisfiers and leaders tend to go beyond legislative compliance and engage in more proactive SSCM practices driven by influential policies. This thesis fulfils an identified need to study how SSCM practices are implemented amongst private enterprises operating in unique institutional environments in emerging countries like China. The proposed theoretical framework offers a novel way to explore the influence of government interventions on SSCM implementation. It contributes to knowledge in both the SSCM and sustainability policy research fields by considering both the specifics of Chinese government institutional pressures and the moderating effects of contingency factors. The research also provides suggestions and insights to Chinese private enterprise managers and the Chinese government (both national and local) in terms of the effective SSCM and policy formulation and implementation. The knowledge gained from this study is potentially useful for the understanding of SSCM implementation in other developing countries with challenging institutional environments.

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Thesis (PhD)
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15 Feb 2021 10:20
Last Modified:
18 Jul 2024 00:20