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A Design Theory for Energy and Carbon Management Systems in the Supply Chain

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Abstract

Energy and Carbon Management Systems (ECMS) are a class of green information systems that has the potential to increase environmental sustainability in organizations and across supply chains. Employing a design science research approach, we define the scope of ECMS in the supply chain context, identify requirements, design an expository instantiation, and develop an information systems design theory, including key constructs and design principles. We instantiate this theory in four supply chain contexts to validate and revise the proposed design in two rounds. We identify six system components-data collection, energy monitoring, supply chain coordination, ECMS workflow engine, reporting, and carbon footprint estimator-that integrate and coordinate four types of information flows (transactional, contextual, energy, and product-environmental), and formulate design principles. Our evaluation indicates that the ECMS design theory, if instantiated, supports energy and carbon measurement and environmentally aware decision-making and practicing in supply chains. We also highlight how considering energy information flows in combination with material features that afford environmentally aware decision-making and practicing are key to qualifying information systems as "green." Keywords. Energy and carbon management systems, green information systems, sustainable supply chain management, design science research

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Impacts on the environment from human activities are now threatening to exceed thresholds for central Earth System processes, potentially moving the Earth System out of the Holocene state. To avoid such consequences, the concept of Planetary Boundaries was defined in 2009, and updated in 2015, for a number of processes which are essential for maintaining the Earth System in its present state. Life-Cycle Assessment was identified as a suitable tool for linking human activities to the Planetary Boundaries. However, to facilitate proper use of Life-Cycle Assessment for non-global environmental management based on the Planetary Boundaries, there is a need for linking non-global activities to impacts on a planetary level. In this study, challenges related to development and operationalization of a Planetary Boundary based Life-Cycle Impact Assessment method are identified and the feasibility of resolving the challenges and developing such methodology is discussed. The challenges are related to technical issues, i.e., modelling and including the Earth System processes and their control variables as impact categories in Life-Cycle Impact Assessment and to theoretical considerations with respect to the interpretation and use of Life-Cycle Assessment results in accordance with the Planetary Boundary framework. The identified challenges require additional research before a Planetary Boundaries based Life-Cycle Impact Assessment method can be developed. Research on modelling the impacts on Earth System processes and on allocation of and entitlement to the ‘safe operating space’ appear to be most urgent for operationalizing a Planetary Boundaries based Life-Cycle Impact Assessment method. The results of a Planetary Boundaries based Life-Cycle Impact Assessment would be highly relevant and could provide novel insights on the environmental performance and sustainability of products and systems.
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This paper contributes to the development of a consolidated and standardized energy information system architecture description for industrial manufacturers. Based on the latest scientific achievements and data from industrial manufacturers, cross-industry informational requirements were collected and the results were transformed into functional system requirements and allocated elements for the development of an architecture view based on the ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011 and the ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288:2015. The results were then used to extend an energy framework for industrial manufacturers. The results can be utilized to further develop a consolidated and standardized architecture description for energy information systems and to support architecture rationales in industrial manufacturing in the future.
Conference Paper
In recent years, legal and social pressure increasingly forces companies operating in the recycling sector to take into account environmental aspects. For automobile recyclers, especially statutory provisions such as recycling and reuse quotas, are a challenging factor and consequently compels them to include the arising ecological requirements into the decision-making. To support practitioners in the evaluation and selection of alternatives in the context of the recycling process of end-of-life vehicles (ELV), we design and evaluate an environmental management information system (EMIS). The development of the proposed system is based on an acknowledged design science approach. Therefore, we determined industry-specific requirements and source systems of information and embed them into the system architecture. Finally, we show the suitability of the proposed EMIS based on a real-world case study in the recycling sector of ELVs and point out its benefits with respect to economic and environmental aspects. To sum up, the proposed EMIS demonstrates the integration of internal and external data sources as well as legal requirements and voluntary ecological aspects to provide a basis for reasonable decision-making applications in the context of ELVs.
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Much has been written about “why” companies are involved in sustainability issues. However, relatively little research has addressed the integrative “how” question, particularly “how companies can and do integrate sustainability assessment, management accounting, management control, and reporting?” Corporate sustainability, however, requires integrative measurement and management of sustainability issues rather than isolated applications of different tools in the organization. This article reviews literature dealing with links and partial links between sustainability assessment, management accounting, management control, and reporting. The main findings show that the various concepts (performance assessment, management accounting, management control, and reporting) are defined and used in various ways but mainly dealt with in an isolated manner. Based on these findings this paper proposes a comprehensive, integrated framework of sustainability assessment, accounting, control and reporting. From a scientific perspective, the proposed framework is a first attempt to integrate these isolated concepts. It can help researchers and practitioners to better understand how the four concepts are related and could be linked to each other to develop an integrated approach.
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The integration of sustainability in general and environmental aspects in particular into management control systems (MCS) are now being addressed in MCS research. We argue that the concept of environmental management control systems (EMCS) provides a promising approach for integrating presently fragmented lines of inquiry concerning the internal drivers and managerial processes that may foster firms' environmental performance. Addressing the apparent fragmentation of research on EMCS, we develop a 'positioning framework' to locate EMCS within the topic of sustainability and to show how EMCS relates to other subsystems of management, especially to environmental management accounting (EMA) and to environmental management systems (EMS). Second, applying the 'invisible college' approach, which delivered responses of 22 eminent scholars, we analyze scholarly perspectives on useful conceptual frameworks for EMCS. Third, we specify the concept of EMCS and elaborate its elements by drawing on the general MCS framework of Malmi and Brown (2008), which we integrate in our 'positioning framework' to structure instruments and concepts that have been discussed in the literature. Finally, we summarize current empirical research on EMCS by means of an integrative literature review. The integrative literature review allows us to summarize the existing empirical evidence and to outline what we know and do not know about EMCS. Our findings suggest different avenues for future research: Exploring interfaces between the different dimensions of our 'positioning framework' (e.g., different configurations of EMCS elements; combinations of design and use of EMA instruments and EMCS elements; intergenerational controls; potential trade-offs between the dimensions of sustainability), addressing so far neglected aspects of the EMCS framework (e.g., clans; organizational and corporate governance structures), and focusing on more profound theoretical foundations, construct validation, and potential associations of EMCS with innovativeness, capabilities, and organizational learning.
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Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to systematically review the academic literature on sustainability performance measurement for sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) published over the past 20 years. The development and current state of instruments, concepts and systems to measure and manage sustainability performance are examined and research gaps are identified. Design/methodology/approach – A systematic literature review is conducted spanning two decades of publications in peer-reviewed academic journals. The publications are analyzed with regard to frequency and bibliometrical metrics and research content. Findings – The research examines the development of the field over 20 years, which has witnessed a steep rise in related publications only for the past five years, indicating a late interest in the area compared to other sustainability topics. Social performance measures entered the discussion particularly late, whereas economic and environmental measurement almost exclusively dominated the field for the first few years. Research limitations/implications – The authors identify research gaps and discuss future directions for research. The analysis shows how the research area develops from a topic dealt with by a small group of interested researchers into a broader research field acknowledged in the scientific community. Practical implications – Findings underline the importance of measuring performance for sustainability management of supply chains. The review identifies what measurement and management tools are discussed in the literature over time. Originality/value – This is the first literature review on sustainability performance measurement for SSCM summarizing the development over the time span of 20 years. Keywords Performance measurement, Performance measures, Sustainable supply chains Paper type Literature review
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In the last two decades, pressure from various stakeholders has forced many companies to establish environmental and social improvements both in their company and their supply chains. The growing number of journal publications and conference proceedings confirms this change also in academia. The aim of this paper is to analyse and review scientific literature on sustainable supplier management (SSM) with a focus on formal models supporting decision-making in sustainable supplier selection, monitoring and development. For this purpose, a framework on SSM is proposed and a comprehensive content analysis including a criteria analysis is carried out. Beyond this, in total 143 peer-reviewed publications between 1997 and 2014 have been analysed to identify both established and overlooked research fields. Major findings are the rapidly growing interest of this topic in academia in recent years, the predominance of Analytic Hierarchy Process, Analytic Network Process and fuzzy-based approaches, the focus on the final evaluation and selection process step and the rare investigation of social and quantitative metrics. This review may be useful for practitioners and scientists as it outlines major characteristics in this field, which can serve as a basis for further research.
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With the hope of mitigating the harmful impacts of climate change, many organizations are taking actions to reduce their carbon footprints. Carbon-reducing initiatives in organizations are varied: they range from green product innovations to encouraging behavioral changes by customers and employees. Green IS can play an important role in environmental sustainability by supporting a number of these strategies. Drawing on theories of persuasive systems design, this paper explores how one category of Green IS, carbon management systems (CMS), can be designed and used in order to persuade employees to perform ecologically responsible behaviors. The results from three organizational case studies suggest that CMS can be effective at changing employees' environmental behaviors, demonstrate the extent to which persuasive system design principles (including an emergent category of Integration) are reflected in CMS, and highlight the importance of understanding the persuasion context. The findings of the study are used to inform the development of four propositions, which can serve as a foundation for further research in the Green IS domain.
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Firms’ carbon management systems (CMS) play a key role in controlling greenhouse gas emissions, but very little research has focused on determinants of CMS quality. This study uses the holistic approach used by Tang and Luo (2014) and data from large companies that participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project to measure the quality of CMS. Our results show that the overall quality of CMS improved in 2012 relative to 2011, and the quality of CMS is associated with the presence of an emission trading scheme, competitor pressure, the nature of legal system, and carbon exposure. In addition, these country-level and firm-level factors also impact the types of the CMS adopted by the firms in our sample. Our findings suggest that institutional theory explains our results well. Other theoretical perspectives such as a shareholder/stakeholder orientation provide additional elucidation. Given the quality of CMS is not directly observable, our results are potentially useful to outside stakeholders who are concerned about risks associated with GHG emissions of a firm.
Purpose – One of the hurdles to the adoption of sustainable practices across supply chains is the lack of pan-chain performance measurements and their related information and organizational structures. The authors review the literature on performance measurement of sustainable supply chains with a focus on comprehensive measures that include multiple supply chain partners as well as different sustainability aspects. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the reviewed literature and propose some research questions. Design/methodology/approach – The authors reviewed 140 journal articles, cases and reports that appeared since 1994. Findings – The authors classify the reviewed literature according to seven sustainability dimensions (economical, environmental, social, reputable, valuable, equitable and sustainable) as well as the type of industry and methodology used. In addition the authors synthesize the available performance measurements into a comprehensive framework that incorporates different stages of the supply chain operations and decision-making processes. Social implications – The results of this study can be used by researchers to focus on research that may have more implications on supply chains. Practitioners can use the authors proposed performance measurement framework for developing practical and comprehensive measures for their respective industries. Originality/value – The work is original in the way the authors integrate sustainability (seven dimensions) across the supply chain taking into account the type of operational decisions. The framework can be used by researchers and practitioners to develop practical sustainability performance measurement systems for supply chains.
Conference Paper
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are increasingly addressing their environmental impact and to do this need to improve access to environmental information in order to improve decision making and sustainability efforts. Educational institutions have a different focus to other more industrial organisations and therefore frameworks for these organisations are not necessarily suited to educational environments. Whilst several environmental management information systems (EMIS) have been proposed there is a lack of understanding of the components which should be included in such a system due to the existing broad definitions. In addition there are not many best practice guidelines to support the design and development of these systems. This paper proposes a framework for EMISs in higher education. The framework is derived from several literature studies and includes guidelines which can assist with the design of an EMIS. These guidelines are classified according to the components of EMIS.