Cognitive frames held by supply chain managers: Implications for the management of sustainability in supply chains

Lutz Preuss, Andrew Fearne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Despite the growing importance and complexity of modern supply chains, little scholarly attention has been devoted to cognitive processes in supply chain management (SCM). In particular, we know little about the structure of supply chain managers’ cognitive frames and how differences between frames affect sustainable supply chain management (SSCM). Design/methodology/approach: Given the relative scarcity of the topic, this paper uses a conceptual approach. Building on prior literature from cognitive psychology and related areas, it develops ideal types of cognitive frames with which supply chain managers approach sustainability-related decisions. Findings: This study first develops three ideal-type cognitive frames – unidimensional, hierarchical and paradoxical. This paper then shows that it makes a difference which one of these a supply chain manager holds when addressing issues related to sustainable supply. Thereafter, this study discusses the antecedents that can explain why a manager holds a particular cognitive frame. Research limitations/implications: This paper represents one of the first analyses of how the structure of a supply chain manager’s cognitive frame impacts their firm’s sustainable supply initiatives. Although developed with regard to SSCM, the arguments have implications for other management areas too, not least for the education of future SCM professionals. Originality/value: Given their boundary-spanning role, attention to the cognitive processes of supply chain managers is crucial to understanding the conditions under which firms can address sustainability challenges in their supply chains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-695
Number of pages15
JournalSupply Chain Management
Issue number6
Early online date28 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2022


  • Decision-making
  • Green supply chains
  • Sustainability

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