Making supply chains and logistics operations more sustainable through research and education.
The CSLS is a research center dedicated to accelerating the transition towards more sustainable supply chains and logistics. The CSLS team draws on KLU's strong track record of logistics-focused research around environmental sustainability and collaborates with influential stakeholders (e.g., companies, policymakers, and NGOs) to establish Hamburg as an international knowledge hub for this topic.
The activities of the CSLS focus on three broader topics relevant for sustainable logistics and supply chains: (1) decarbonizing logistics, (2) closed-loop supply chains and the circular economy, and (3) corporate sustainability. All research and outreach activities and the CSLS activities in the context of skill-building address at least one of these topics.
Measuring Industry’s Temperature: An Environmental Progress Report on European Logistics
Decarbonizing the operations of small and medium-sized road carriers in Europe: An analysis of their perspectives, motives, and challenges
CREAToR: Collection of raw materials, Removal of flAme reTardants and Reuse of secondary raw materials
BlinK: Blockchain for the Circular Economy
GATE – Ganzheitliche Ausweisung von Transportemissionen
Encory: Making sustainability a model of success
(2023): Interorganizational Sensemaking of the Transition toward a Circular Value Chain, Organization & Environment: .
Abstract: The transition toward the circular economy requires stakeholders to collaborate along value chains. Yet, such collaborations are considerably challenging. Given the paradigmatic change, stakeholders face high levels of uncertainty and also need to align on a common way forward. We extend research on interorganizational sensemaking and the circular economy by exploring the process of interorganizational alignment in a European consortium of over 150 companies representing the value chain for flexible packaging with the objective to transform the value chain from linear to circular. We find that the interorganizational sensemaking process unfolds across three levels—organization, value chain, and ecosystem—which provide different reference frames for the process. We provide insights into how these frames, power dynamics, and identity considerations influence this process. Our findings highlight the importance of considering interdependencies between stakeholders and a collective reconceptualization of the established value chain to successfully transition toward a circular one.
(2023): Sourcing and pricing decisions under upstream competition with a financially distressed supplier, endogenous bankcruptcy risk, and a backup supply option, Production and Operations Management, 32 (8): 2475-2490.
Abstract: To maintain future supplier competition, manufacturers may support financially distressed suppliers by sourcing from them, even if they are less efficient than competitors, and by procuring larger quantities from them at higher prices. We analyze these strategies in a model in which a manufacturer decides for one of two available suppliers, supplier bankruptcy risk is endogenous, and financial distress can lead to internal or external reorganization. Following bankruptcy, the remaining supplier may serve as a backup option. Our research identifies settings in which the manufacturer should support the distressed supplier. We also find that in some cases, a nondistressed supplier may charge price premiums due to its competitor's distress, while in other cases, it may use predatory pricing to drive its competitor into bankruptcy. We complement our results with a small case study and show how our model can explain patterns observed in industry.
(2021): The Influence of Logistics Management on Freight Transport Research: A Short History of a Paradigm Shift, Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, 55 (2): 104-123.
Abstract: The study of freight transport has been subject to a long-term paradigm shift since the 1970s as the movement of freight has increasingly been researched as an integral part of logistics systems and supply chains. It has also benefited from the development of logistics and supply chain management as a business activity and academic discipline. This paper outlines the history of this 'logistification' of freight transport research, examining its impact on the modelling of freight flows and its relevance to a series of major transport policy issues, and discusses the methodological implications of this reorientation and diversification of the field.
(2021): Subcontracting New Product Development Projects: The Role of Competition and Commitment, Decision Sciences, 52 (5): 1039-1070.
Abstract: Should a firm, which seeks to subcontract a new product development project, leverage competition among potential suppliers and ask all of them to engage in research and development in parallel? Or should it first invite offers and commit to the supplier with the best offer, before only this supplier engages in development? Building on analytical literature on both formats, we apply game theory to answer these questions. We identify Bayesian Nash equilibrium strategies and characterize advantages of both formats. We find that having multiple suppliers engage in new product development in parallel is favored only if enough suppliers can be attracted, which is the case when development uncertainty and learning benefits are high. The participation decision also depends on the specific structure of the project's development costs. If administrative overhead and material costs are substantial, while engaging in development and exerting effort is relatively cheap but does not offer many learning opportunities, the number of suppliers who would be willing to engage in parallel development is limited. First inviting offers and selecting the best supplier to exclusively engage in new product development then becomes more attractive for the buyer. We discuss further implications and characterize environments that may foster more innovativeness in this context.
(2021): Commitment follows beliefs: A configurational perspective on operations managers´ commitment to practice adoption, Journal of Operations Management, 67 (4): 450-475.
Abstract: Companies that seek to improve their operational performance by adopting new practices often report disappointing adoption rates. The literature concerning practice adoption has tended to focus on efficacy and legitimacy drivers at the organizational level. However, there exists convincing evidence that practice adoption largely depends on the commitment of those managers involved in the adoption of a given practice. Thus, we investigate what prompts operations managers to commit to practice adoption. We draw on the theory of planned behavior to explore the cognitive foundations of 76 operations managers' commitment to new operational practices. Using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis, we identify three belief configurations associated with high levels of commitment—“the Follower,” “the Pragmatist,” and “the Reformer.” We contribute a behavioral operations perspective to the literature on practice adoption by providing an individual-level and configurational view of managerial commitment to change.
(2019): The fallacy of “trickle-down” product sustainability: Translating strategic sustainability targets into product development efforts, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 39 (9/10): 1166-1190.
Abstract: Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how big-picture sustainability strategies are translated into tangible product development efforts. The authors assert that most sustainable products currently remain confined to niche markets and do not permeate the mainstream. The authors propose that there is a missing link between strategic sustainability goals and operational product development initiatives. The authors establish a path to bridging this gap. Design/methodology/approach The manuscript is based on a qualitative research design with a sample of 32 companies. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with product developers as well as secondary data analysis. Findings The authors delineate three empirically derived approaches firms from the sample pursue to develop sustainable products. The authors identify a phenomenon that the authors’ call the fallacy of trickle-down product sustainability. The authors find that only one of the three approaches – codification – is equipped to successfully turn strategic sustainability targets into authentic sustainable products. Practical implications This study provides an actionable guide to executives and product developers with respect to bridging the gap between often elusive sustainability aspirations and tangible product improvements via the process of rigorous codification. Originality/value This study provides a novel and unique perspective into strategy, sustainability and product development. The authors synthesize the extant literature on sustainable product development, juxtapose the emergent structure with primary interview data, and elaborate the resource-based view (RBV) to provide theoretical and practical implications. The authors establish scalability as the missing RBV capability of many attempts toward mass–market compatibility of more sustainable products.
(2019): On the Nature of Corporate Sustainability, Organisation & Environment, 33 (3): 319-341.
Abstract: Scholarly and managerial interest in corporate sustainability has increased significantly in the past two decades. However, the field is increasingly criticized for failing to effectively contribute to sustainable development and for its limited impact on managerial practice. We argue that this criticism arises due to a fundamental ambiguity around the nature of corporate sustainability. To address the lack of concept clarity, we conduct a systematic literature review and identify 33 definitions of corporate sustainability. Adopting the Aristotelian perspective on definitions, one that promotes reducing concepts to their essential attributes, we discern four components of corporate sustainability. These components offer a conceptual space of inquiry that, while being parsimonious, offers nuanced understanding of the dimensions along which definitions of corporate sustainability differ. We discuss implications for research and practice and outline several recommendations for how advancements in construct clarity may lead to a better scholarly understanding of corporate sustainability.
(2019): How Corporate Sustainability Affects Product Developers’ Approaches Toward Improving Product Sustainability, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 68 (4): 955-969.
Abstract: Human factors, such as an individual's competences and attitudes, have a decisive impact on the results of product development processes, especially in companies with small product development teams. Sustainability considerations further amplify this impact as such a multifaceted issue results in an extra layer of product requirements and hard-to-make decisions on tradeoffs. This paper explores the interplay of corporate sustainability and the individual approaches product developers exhibit toward improving product sustainability. For this purpose, a grounded theory study in the German consumer goods industry is conducted. Thirty-two expert interviews with product development managers and extensive secondary data are collected and analyzed. It is found that the corporate sustainability approach heavily influences how developers comprehend sustainability and how they conceptualize it for their product portfolio. Explicitly, the products considered for sustainability improvements, their innovation level, and the use of design stereotypes to signal sustainability improvements emerge as key decision levers. The findings emphasize that the human factors in the context of product development, specifically concerning sustainability, warrant more academic attention. Also, it is demonstrated that companies need to be aware of the organizational environment which they are providing for their developers when pushing for product sustainability.
(2017): Integrating QCA and HLM for Multilevel Research on Organizational Configurations, Organizational Research Methods, 20 (2): 324-342.
Abstract: Mixed methods systematically combine multiple research approaches—either in basic parallel, sequential, or conversion designs or in more complex multilevel or integrated designs. Multilevel mixed designs are among the most valuable and dynamic. Yet current multilevel designs, which are rare in the mixed methods literature, do not strongly integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches for use in one study. This lack of integration is particularly problematic for research in the organization sciences because of the variety of multilevel concepts that researchers study. In this article, we develop a multilevel mixed methods technique that integrates qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) with hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). This technique is among the first of the multilevel ones to integrate qualitative and quantitative methods in a single research design. Using Miles and Snow’s typology of generic strategies as an example of organizational configurations, we both illustrate how researchers may apply this technique and provide recommendations for its application and potential extensions. Our technique offers new opportunities for bridging macro and micro inquiries by developing strong inferences for testing, refining, and extending multilevel theories of organizational configurations.
Our SuMO program provides professionals with the chance to learn about sustainable management and make a real impact. It's a part-time program that offers flexible learning options and combines scientific expertise with a holistic perspective on sustainability. With a blend of online modules and interactive on-campus sessions in Hamburg, it optimizes your time for effective learning. Learn more!
The Summer School in Sustainability comprises workshops and lectures with outstanding international lecturers, excursions in the logistics metropolis Hamburg and an attractive supporting program. A balanced mix of theory and practice and highly motivated participants from all corporate sectors make the seminar an exciting experience. Learn more!
Dr. Elaheh Nosrati Rad
Educational Developer/ Project Manager (CSLS)
Kühne Logistics University - KLU