Could circular futures shape supply chain theory and practice?
A Seminar from Brais Suarez Eiroa and Andrea Genovese, within the activities of the ExPliCit project
Supply chain management (SCM) theories are built upon theoretical assumptions that underpin specific values and worldviews. Most SCM research rarely questions business-as-usual and it is often too much skewed towards pro-market ideologies and narratives. The multiple environmental and social crises that humanity is facing urge the SCM community to expand its scope and explore alternative narratives, which might imply exploring new theories or new versions of current theories.
The paper presents a systematic literature review on SCM literature and its connection with the emergent literature on Circular Economy (CE). Then, the paper explores what SCM theory-building looks like in four potential circular narratives (futures): circular modernism, planned circularity, peer-to-peer circularity and bottom-up sufficiency.
Findings show that the huge variety of theoretical lenses and methodologies used in SCM research opens up clear opportunities to embrace new narratives beyond pro-market ones. Moreover, we confirm that, far from neutral and apolitical, SCM theories underpin (often vested) political agendas and interests.