Sustainable Operation Management

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Vol. 14, No. 4, Winter 2005, pp. 482– 492 issn 1059-1478 05 1404 482$1.25

© 2005 Production and Operations Management Society

Sustainable Operations Management
Paul R. Kleindorfer • Kalyan Singhal • Luk N. Van Wassenhove The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore, 1420 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA INSEAD, Technology and Operations Management Area, 77305 Fontainebleau, France • •

perations management researchers and practitioners face new challenges in integrating issues of sustainability with their traditional areas of interest. During the past 20 years, there has been growing pressure on businesses to pay more attention to the environmental and resource consequences of the products and services they offer and the processes they deploy. One symptom of this pressure is the movement towards triple bottom line reporting (3BL) concerning the relationship of profit, people, and the planet. The resulting challenges include integrating environmental, health, and safety concerns with green-product design, lean and green operations, and closed-loop supply chains. We review these and other “sustainability” themes covered in the first 50 issues of Production and Operations Management and conclude with some thoughts on future research challenges in sustainable operations management. Key words: sustainable operations; closed-loop supply chains; green products; lean and green operations; environmental management and operations; eco-logistics; competitive advantage Submissions and Acceptance: Accepted by Special Editor, Hau Lee, after one revision.



Introduction and Background

The Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) was created in 1989, and one of its first activities was to launch Production and Operations Management (POM), with the inaugural issue appearing in 1992. POM’s objectives were ambitious, with an overall objective “to improve practice” (Singhal 1992). We review what the journal has accomplished in its first 50 issues in the context of sustainability. We use the term sustainability to include environmental management, closed-loop supply chains, and a broad perspective on triple-bottom-line thinking, integrating profit, people, and the planet into the culture, strategy, and operations of companies. We start with a brief account of the trends that have shaped the field of operations management (OM) in the past two decades and influenced the mission of the journal, POM. 1.2. Innovations in the 1980s and the 1990s: TQM, JIT, and BPR POM’s launching in 1992 came at an auspicious time for OM, as the 1980s had already underlined the benefits of total quality management (TQM), time-based competition, and just-in-time operations (JIT), im482

ported to Europe and North America from Japan. These philosophies had been refined in the 1960s and 1970s and came to be recognized in Japan as the backbone of the reconstruction of its postwar economy. TQM, JIT, and time-based competition provided both the tools and the elements of the management systems needed to integrate them with company strategy. The locus of control and methodology of these tools and management systems was directly associated with operations. With the growing realization of the impact of these innovations on customers and profit, operations began its transformation from a neglected stepsister needed to support marketing and finance to a cherished handmaiden of value creation. It was becoming a primary focus of strategic importance for companies around the world (Hayes, Wheelwright, and Clark 1988). Building on these early innovations, a wave of change began in the 1990s called business process reengineering...
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