Infoscience

Thesis

Improving firm performance through sustainable operations

As concerns over environmental sustainability rise, corporations must extend their efforts to improve their environmental performance while at the same time realizing economic growth. The endeavor represents challenges on both strategic and operational fronts, in particular regarding supply chains. This dissertation is thus motivated by the opportunity for businesses to improve their overall performance through their supply chain strategies and operations. In the first research project, we address the strategic opportunities by developing a theoretical framework to identify the dynamic capabilities required to obtain environmentally sustainable supply chains. We break down the internal and external capabilities in three hierarchical levels of organizational structure, and illustrate an application of the framework with a case study on the "Zero waste to disposal" initiative of Nestlé. In the second research project, we focus on the operational opportunities by analytically optimizing the replenishment frequency of perishable products between two supply chain levels. We model the manufacturer-retailer relationship as a Stackelberg game and show that raw material and finished goods lifetimes are interrelated through the replenishment cycle, and that they significantly impact supply chain costs. In the final project, we address both strategic and operational opportunities by empirically modelling the drivers of spoilage for days-fresh products, in our case fruits and vegetables, using daily supply chain data from Migros, Switzerland's largest retailer. We quantify to what extent inventory, promotions, delivery type, commitment changes, order variations, order cycle, and quality issues influence spoilage, and emphasize the necessity for specialized supply chain processes, tracking inventory age, and collaboration with supply chain partners for this fundamental product category.

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