The role of knowledge and capabilities in a sustainable product chain context - a literature review
Paper i proceeding, 2013

Sustainable development is a huge contemporary environmental challenge and a topic that has been widely discussed over the last decades. Managing environmental issues organizations has traditionally had an ‘in-house’ environmental focus, but attention has more and more turned from these in-house environmental aspects towards an approach where environmental concern is extended to include the life cycle of a product. There is a diversity of concepts that relate to environmental concern and sustainability of products and supply chains. But all in all the common denominator of this perspective is environmental consideration that stretches the traditional focus on individual actors towards a holistic environmental product chain perspective - here referred to as a ‘sustainable product chain’ perspective. Focus in this body of literature is on having a broader environmental perspective and interactions with actors upstream and downstream the product chains, therefore a number of authors within this field have also focused on the sharing of knowledge, resources and organizational capabilities within and between product chain actors. Knowledge as an academic field is vast and contains numerous different directions and there are several ways of viewing and understanding knowledge. As knowledge and organizational capabilities for sustainable product chains is a young and emerging field this has prompted a literature review with the aim of exploring which knowledge perspectives are dominant in the literature on knowledge and organizational capabilities in sustainable product chains and to examine its role in a sustainable product chain context. The review shows that the field is dominated by assumptions that knowledge is something that can be created, and transferred from one party to another, similar to an object. Thus, knowledge is treated in a rather simplistic matter.

knowledge capabilities

product chain

Life cycle management



Hanna Lindén

Chalmers, Energi och miljö, Miljösystemanalys

Henrikke Baumann

Chalmers, Energi och miljö, Miljösystemanalys

Andreas Diedrich

Göteborgs universitet

Proceedings of the 8th EISAM colloquium on Organizational Change & Development (OCD) in Ghent, Belgium, September 12-13, 2013


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