Procurement's Strategic Role in Sustainability; Innovation Handbook; Advanced Training Opportunities

Procurement's Strategic Role in Sustainability

By Kellen Betts in Manifold

Procurement has a strategic role in building sustainable supply networks. According to research [1,2,3] from Veronica H. Villena and Dennis A. Gioia at Penn State, many multinational corporations—even those considered “sustainability leaders” in their industry—struggle to cascade sustainability practices beyond their direct (tier one) suppliers.

To address this challenge they identify a number of direct, indirect, collective, and global strategies corporations can use to promote their supplier’s social and environmental responsibility (CSR) such as providing training and incentives to suppliers for sustainability practices. [1]

They also find a number of critical areas for improvement including providing better sustainability training and incentives for their procurement officers, considering social and environmental criteria when pre-approving lower-tier suppliers, and engaging their supplier’s procurement personnel in sustainability initiatives. [1]

All of the 52 procurement employees we interviewed (at MNCs and at suppliers) said they needed more training to properly pursue supplier sustainability on behalf of their firms. [1]


[1] Villena, V. H., & Gioia, D. A. (2020). A More Sustainable Supply Chain. Harvard Business Review, March-April 2020.

[2] Villena, V. H. (2018). The Missing Link? The Strategic Role of Procurement in Building Sustainable Supply Networks. Production and Operations Management, 28(5), 1149–1172.

[3] Villena, V. H., & Gioia, D. A. (2018). On the riskiness of lower-tier suppliers_ Managing sustainability in supply networks. Journal of Operations Management, 64(1), 65–87.

What We're Reading

Book of the Week

Review by Kellen Betts

Supply chain is ripe for innovation. The challenges many companies face present opportunities for new supply chain technologies and business models, gaining the attention of investors, corporate initiatives, and talent.

Keeping abreast of developments in the domain can seem like an endless stream of press releases and posts in new supply chain media complex—who knew we needed so many websites, newsletters, webinars, conferences, and commentators! (Said with tongue-in-cheek.)

John Manners-Bell and Ken Lyon bring together many new ideas in the balanced and readable The Logistics and Supply Chain Innovation Handbook: Disruptive Technologies and New Business Models.

The book is a great resource for practitioners and leaders looking for an efficient survey of new supply chain technologies and business models, or anyone interested in learning about new ideas being tested in areas outside of their domain.

It only skims the surface of each topic, but it covers a lot of ground including AI and big data, control towers and visibility, 3D printing, robotics and automation, blockchain and trade finance, digital logistics marketplaces, Uber-type delivery/shipping models, autonomous vehicles, digital freight forwarding, and others.

By the Numbers

1.1°C vs 1.5°C

The year 2019 ended with a global average temperature of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels (WMO). This is less than half a degree away from what parties to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement hope to achieve (1.5°C), and 2020 is on track to be the warmest on record. We have a lot of work to do.

Advanced Training Opportunities

Certified Sustainability Practitioner

This challenging three-day digital training aims to give you the latest practical tools and resources to implement or upscale corporate sustainability. Drive your initiatives to the next level by generating value and creating effective strategies. Become a Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner and earn a unique recognition in the Sustainability and CSR field. The new Practitioner Program focuses on key challenges that professionals face in the field of Sustainability, Supply Chain, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development and Circular Economy.

Collaborative Contracting

Yesterday’s negotiation and contracting skills won’t work for tomorrow’s deals that demand collaboration and flexibility in a dynamic business world where “business happens.” This intensive course is ideal for individuals who want to take their negotiations and contracting skills to the next level. The highly interactive and interactive course provides an intimate Executive Education setting where participants learn cutting edge relational contracting principles that “flips” conventional negotiations on its head – turning any negotiation into a more collaborative contracting exercise.

About Us

Kellen Betts is Editor of Supply Chain Weekly. He also writes the newsletter Manifold, exploring the intersection of supply chain, sustainability, and technology. Contact him at Follow him on LinkedIn and @KellenBetts.