Developing a Business Sustainability Model in the Supply Chain Using the Meta-Synthesis Approach

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Management, Kermanshah Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kermanshah, Iran.

2 Assistant Prof., Department of Management, University of Kurdistan, Kurdistan, Iran.

3 Assistant Prof., Department of Management, Kermanshah Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kermanshah, Iran.

4 Assistant Prof., Department of Management, University of Ilam, Ilam, Iran.


Entrepreneurship as well as the creation of dynamic and productive businesses is considered as the important factors and the driving force for economic development in any country. In this regard, it is important to pay attention to identifying and activating the capacity to create jobs and entrepreneurship and to the sustainability of established businesses. However, our country is deprived of the benefits of a sustainable supply chain. It is not possible to expect a stable performance from the supply chain until all the businesses across the supply chain build sustained interactions with each other. Therefore, one must look for the dimensions, components and indicators to develop a business sustainability model in the supply chain so that the businesses within the supply chain could be sustained and, ultimately, supply chain stability would be achieved. The present study has attempted to develop a model of sustainability for the businesses within the supply chain through selecting a different perspective from previous studies by identifying, combining and deeply understanding the dimensions, concepts and indicators. Therefore, the main purpose of this study is to propose a model in order to fill the gap in the related literature in our country, which can show the innovative and distinctive aspects of this research.
The present study is applied in terms of purpose because businesses can measure their sustainability based on the indicators of the final model of this research and it is a meta-synthesis of the previous qualitative studies in terms of method. To achieve the research objective, the meta-synthesis method was used in accordance with the seven-step model proposed by Sandelowski and Barroso. The statistical population of this research includes all the articles, research reports, books, databases, as well as local and international publications in the field of business sustainability in the supply chain from 2000 to 2018. The keywords were looked up in MAGIRAN, SID, CIVILICA, NOORMAGS, Science Direct, Springer, Scopus, Google Scholar and Emerald databases. The inclusion criteria were: valid databases, research period and using the keywords. As a result of reviewing the databases using different search engines and based on the inclusion criteria, 422 cases were finally found.
Business sustainability model in this study proposed 93 indicators for business sustainability in the form of 16 themes and 3 main dimensions. The main dimensions of the model include economic, social and environmental dimensions where the economic dimension includes 3 main themes and 18 indicators, the social dimension includes 7 themes and 33 indicators, and the environmental dimension includes 6 themes and 42 indicators. In this study, the environmental dimension provided the highest variety with 42 indicators followed by the social and economic dimensions with 33 and 18 indicators, respectively.
The achievement of economic stability means continuity of business economic activity as well as sustainability in the economic system which requires the indicators such as organizational capabilities (strategic flexibility, value chain flexibility and achieving customer integration), innovation in business processes and activities, lean management, competitive advantage, marketing, risk management and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, business sustainability refers to the ability of the society to maintain the necessary instruments to create wealth, prosperity and social participation to promote social integration and cohesion. Besides, as a concept, it seeks to maintain and stabilize the social and cultural components of society in relation to other aspects of sustainability (economic and environmental). In addition, the environmental responsibilities of companies and the related activities can be considered as a source to legitimize their competitive advantage. This, in turn, leads to the formation of a better image of the company in the minds of its customers as an environmentally friendly image and helps sustain its activities. Based on the findings and the results of the research (identifying the dimensions, themes and indicators of business sustainability), it is recommended to the managers, planners and policy makers in the field of business to establish a business and its management, evaluate the existing businesses, eliminate possible shortcomings and avoid complying them with those indicators based on the indicators which were proposed by this model.


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