Ensuring sustainability in supply chains: A competence model for purchasing professionals

PhD Thesis

Schulze, H. (2020). Ensuring sustainability in supply chains: A competence model for purchasing professionals. PhD Thesis London South Bank University https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.8w755
AuthorsSchulze, H.
TypePhD Thesis

Implementing sustainability into global supply chains remains a challenge for companies. Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) interacts closely with supply network actors, thus influencing how the firm’s value creation is delivered. While previous sustainable PSM (SPSM) research has shed light on how to manage sustainability on an organisational level, the role and impact of individual purchasing professionals on SPSM is less well understood. Their contribution to SPSM depends on both: they must be qualified, and they must be allowed to integrate sustainability in their daily work. Models from organisational psychology consider individual competence as one determinant for behaviour in organisations, together with motivational factors and enablers through the organisation. Transferred to the SPSM context, competences of purchasing professionals contribute to sustainable behaviour in the organisation. This thesis set out to understand individual SPSM competences, with the aim to foster their integration in the daily work of purchasing professionals, finally contributing to the implementation of sustainability in supply chains. It strived for an answer to the central research question: “Which individual competences of PSM professionals are required to implement SPSM?”, with the objectives to develop a SPSM competence model and to design a SPSM training module.
A multi-method approach rarely applied so far in the PSM field was used to gather SPSM competences. First, a systematic literature review (SLR) determined the current research coverage of SPSM competences. Second, a Delphi study was conducted with 16 experts in the field of PSM and sustainability, applying the critical incident technique (CIT). A systematic qualitative data analysis led to a set of 26 SPSM competences. These were consolidated in a competence model, highlighting functional, cognition-oriented, social and meta-oriented competences. Familiar denominations of competences were corroborated with specific descriptions in terms of their application in the specific SPSM context. Third, the SPSM competences were transferred into a training module, which was tested in an action research approach with students and purchasing professionals.
The findings of this research help companies to better cope with the implementation of sustainability in global supply chains, as individual SPSM competences, being one major determinant of SPSM behaviour, are now much more transparent. Firms may use the competence model and the training module as blueprints and adapt them to the individual organisational context.
For Higher Education, the thesis offers inspiration how to integrate sustainability into PSM curricula by focusing on the most important competence areas. In addition, by applying models from educational sciences and organisational psychology in the PSM context, the research intends to foster an interdisciplinary debate on SPSM competences. Finally, future research might look for answers to the hypothesis that SPSM competences point towards a general competence profile for PSM professionals that is necessary to be able to cope with future challenges in the field.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.8w755
File Access Level
Publication dates
Print09 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Apr 2021
Additional information

This research programme was carried out in collaboration with Mainz University of Applied Sciences

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