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HOI research | Leagile supply chains boost sustainable business performance, study finds

How can companies balance efficiency and flexibility while maintaining sustainability? A new study explores the integration of lean and agile supply chain strategies to enhance sustainable performance across the triple-bottom line (economic, environmental, and social performance). The research is published in the journal Production Planning & Control.

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Balancing efficiency and flexibility for sustainability

Companies are increasingly challenged to find the most appropriate supply chain strategies that enhance competitiveness while addressing sustainability. This research focuses on the integration of lean and agile supply chain strategies, known as "leagility," to achieve a balance between efficiency and flexibility. Conducted in dynamic industries such as fashion and electronics, this study shows how the building blocks of the leagile supply chain strategy interact for sustainable performance measures.

Integrating lean and agile for sustainable outcomes

This research aimed to develop an integrated model combining lean and agile supply chain strategies to enhance sustainable business performance. By using total interpretive structural modeling (TISM), the researchers first identified the leagile building blocks and then showed how these blocks interact to improve economic, environmental, and social outcomes. The research provided actionable insights for companies striving for efficiency and flexibility while committing to sustainability.

"In today's competitive environments, a key challenge for businesses is determining supply chain strategies that balance efficiency and flexibility while committing to sustainability. Our research highlights the importance of ambidextrous supply chains, achieved through the simultaneous adoption of lean and agile strategies (known as the leagile strategy), as a solution to this challenge", said Dr. Matin Mohaghegh.

Using total interpretive structural modeling

The study employed total interpretive structural modeling (TISM) to analyze the complex relationships between lean and agile supply chain practices and their impacts on sustainable business performance measures. This methodology combines literature review and expert opinions to create a hierarchical model demonstrating these interactions.

Key research findings

  • An ambidextrous supply chain, characterized by the simultaneous adoption of lean and agile strategies, i.e., hybrid leagile supply chain strategy, is the key to enhance overall business performance across economic, environmental, and social dimensions.
  • Achieving sustainable outcomes requires equal attention to efficiency (through leanness) and flexibility (through agility), all while developing sustainable supply chain practices.
  • Lean practices serve as the prerequisite of agile practices, resulting in viewing lean and agile as supportive supply chain strategies.

Advancing sustainable supply chain strategies

This research contributes to the understanding of how lean and agile practices can be combined to achieve sustainable business performance. It provides a foundation for future studies to explore further integration of sustainability into supply chain strategies. Continued research is needed to refine these models and adapt them to various industry contexts.

Meet the researchers

  • Dr. Matin Mohaghegh: House of Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics
  • Dr. Andreas Größler: Department of Operations Management, University of Stuttgart
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