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International Journal of Logistics
Research and Applications
Digitalization for sustainable supply chain in the world of VUCA
Submission Deadline: 31st March 2023

Guest editors

Prof. Li Cui (Lead guest editor)

School of Business, Dalian University of Technology, China

Email: cuili@dlut.edu.cn


Dr. Maria Pia Ciano (Guest Editor)

Nottingham University Business School, UK

Email: Maria.Ciano@nottingham.ac.uk


Prof. Ying Li (Guest Editor)

School of Management, Shandong University, China

Email:  li_ying@sdu.edu.cn


Dr. Lin Wu (Guest Editor)

Nottingham University Business School, UK

Email: Lin.Wu@nottingham.ac.uk


Overview of the Special Issue

Sustainable supply chain management has attracted burgeoning interests among scholars and practitioners (Gunasekaran & Spalanzani, 2012). Companies in supply chains are required to provide green products, excellent services and accurate information which further lead to economic, environmental and social benefits (Xie & Allen, 2013). However, the world today is in a highly dynamic environment characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) (Pereira & Bamel, 2021). Simultaneous multilevel crisis events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, extreme weather, globalization, and new legislations bring big challenges for sustainable supply chain management (Eckstein et al., 2015; Zhang-Zhang et al., 2022). For instance, the pandemic added challenges to governments and firms to take serious steps toward the supply chain’s green practices and corporate social responsibility practices to overcome economic, social, and environmental issues facing their sustainability (Alzgool et al., 2021; Clk et al., 2021). How to balance economic, environmental and social performance in the supply chain in this world of VUCA is becoming a critical problem in all industries.


With the advent of industry 4.0, there is a noticeable increase in interests in the application of digital technologies in supply chain management (Li et al., 2020; Cui et al., 2021), which provide opportunities for sustainable supply chain management in the world of VUCA. The digital connectivity of people and objects is currently reshaping entire business landscapes (Liu et al., 2016) that industries and companies are shifting to digitalization. In this situation, Industry 4.0 environment is fundamentally changing the supply systems (Ketchen et al., 2014). With the massive amount of data generated in today’s business activities (Lechler et al., 2019), supply chain information quantity and quality can be enhanced. The companies in the supply chain can build a digital platform to update the logistics information to the cloud in real time (Ivanov et al., 2022). Real-time information processing techniques can also be applied to reduce supply chain uncertainty (Lechler et al., 2019). The carbon emissions or environmental resource utilization in the supply chains can be estimated by digital technologies to deal with environmental concerns and impacts on the society, then to help the companies achieve sustainable goals (Jian et al., 2020).


As the pandemic remains uncertain, this circumstance of VUCA provides opportunities that solve the problem of sustainability through digitization, but there are still many challenges and barriers faced by scholars and practitioners (Radziwill, 2020; Kholaif & Ming, 2022). Although scholars have done a lot of research on digital supply chains (Hallikas et al., 2021; Aamer et al., 2022), how to build and maintain a sustainable supply chain through digitalization is becoming a critical and novel management issue which needs further exploration. Extant studies still lack digitalization links to comprehensive sustainability (economic, environmental and social dimensions), especially in the circumstance of VUCA. Motivated by these considerations, this special issue aims to encourage more researches and practices on digitalization for sustainable supply chain. We call for theoretically sound and empirically robust research employing survey research, multiple case studies, multi-criteria decision making, and comprehensive study. Papers adopting mixed methodologies are welcome.


This special issue invites research on following themes, but not limited to:

  • What is the role of different technologies (e.g., technological innovations, industry 4.0, IT) in dealing with uncertainties in the supply chain?

  • The drivers of digitalization of the organization for sustainable supply chains

  • The processes and mechanisms on how digitalization affects organizational sustainable performance through supply chain capabilities (e.g., agility, resilience)

  • The use of specific digital technologies such as big data analytics, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for sustainable supply chain management

  • Wider impacts of digitalization on sustainable supply chain management and firm performance

  • Impacts of VUCA environment on digitalization and sustainable supply chain management

  • The differences among digital technology application, digitization, and digitalization and their roles in sustainable supply chain management

  • Collaboration, innovations and other practices to promote digitalization for sustainable supply chains in the VUCA environment

  • The dark sides of digitalization for sustainable supply chains in the VUCA environment


Publication Schedule:

  • Full manuscript submission by: 31st March 2023.

  • Screening and review process will begin once the submission has been made.  

  • Final manuscript decision: As soon as the manuscript has been accepted for publication, it will become available online. The final volume and issue number will be assigned after the deadline of the submission as stated above.   


Submission Information

Manuscripts will be subject to a rigorous review process under the supervision of the Guest Editors and Editor-in-Chief, and accepted papers will be published online before print publication. Regarding the submission guidelines and other details, authors should refer to the details on the journal website.

Please make sure you select the SI you are submitting to when prompted in the submission portal.


Guest editors’ biography:

Li Cui received the Ph.D. degree from Dalian University of Technology, China. She is currently an associate professor in School of Business, Dalian University of Technology. Her research interests include sustainable operation and supply chain management. Her research has appeared in journals such as International Journal of Production Economics, International Journal of Production Research, Annals of Operations Research and Journal of Business Research.

Maria Pia Ciano is Assistant Professor in Operations Management at the University of Nottingham. She got her PhD at LIUC Carlo Cattaneo University with a thesis on the link between Lean techniques and Industry 4.0 technologies. Her thesis was developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IAO of Stuttgart and the Free University of Bozen. Her main topics of research and interest are: Lean Manufacturing, Lean Supply Chain, Industry 4.0 and research areas that can branch out from or link these two topics, such as Data Analytics and Circular Economy. 

Ying Li is an associate professor at the School of Management, Shandong University, China. She holds a PhD degree from Zhejiang University. Her research mainly focuses on digital supply chain management, sustainable supply chain management and project-based supply chain management. She has published in journals such as International Journal of Production Economics, Transportation Research Part E, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, and Industrial Management & Data Systems. Her research is funded by National Science Foundation of China.

Lin Wu is Assistant Professor in Operations Management at the University of Nottingham. She received her PhD from Nottingham University Business School China in 2016. Her research topics include sustainable supply chain management, digital transformation of supply chains, and digital platforms for food recycling. Lin’s research work has been published in International Journal of Production Research, Business Strategy and the Environment, Annals of Operations Research, International Journal of Human Resource Management, among others.



  • Aamer, A., Sahara, C. R., & Al-Awlaqi, M. A. (2022). Digitalization of the supply chain: transformation factors. Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-01-2021-0001

  • Alzgool, M. R. H., Ahmed, U., Shah, S. M. M., Alkadash, T., & Almaamary, Q. (2021). Going green during covid-19: examining the links between green HRM, green supply chain and firm performance in food industry of bahrain: the moderating role of lockdown due to covid-19. Uncertain supply chain management, 9, 79-88.

  • Clk, A., Ta, A., Sa, B., Sma, C., Mam, D., & Gk, E. (2021). Improving supply chain sustainability in the context of covid-19 pandemic in an emerging economy: exploring drivers using an integrated model. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 26, 411-427.

  • Cui, L., Wu, H., Wu, L. et al. (2022). Investigating the relationship between digital technologies, supply chain integration and firm resilience in the context of COVID-19. Annals of Operations Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10479-022-04735-y

  • Eckstein, D., Goellner, M., Blome, C., & Henke, M. (2015). The performance impact of supply chain agility and supply chain adaptability: the moderating effect of product complexity. International Journal of Production Research, 53(9-10), 3028-3046.

  • Gunasekaran, A., & Spalanzani, A. (2012). Sustainability of manufacturing and services: investigations for research and applications, International Journal of Production Economics, 140(1), 35-47.

  • Hallikas, J., Immonen, M., & Brax, S. (2021). Digitalizing procurement: the impact of data analytics on supply chain performance. Supply Chain Management, 26(5), 629-646.

  • Ivanov, D., Dolgui, A., & Sokolov, B. (2022). Cloud supply chain: integrating industry 4.0 and digital platforms in the "supply chain-as-a-service". Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 160, 102676.

  • Jian, W., Qian, W., & Yu, M. Z. (2020). Green supply chain network design considering chain-to-chain competition on price and carbon emission. Computers& Industrial Engineering, 145, 106503.

  • Ketchen, D. J., Crook, T. R., & Craighead, C.W. (2014). From supply chains to supply ecosystems: implications for strategic sourcing research and practice, Journal of Business Logistics, 35(3), 165-171.

  • Kholaif, M. M. N. H. K., & Ming, X. (2022). Covid-19's fear-uncertainty effect on green supply chain management and sustainability performances: the moderate effect of corporate social responsibility. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-21304-9

  • Lechler, S., Canzaniello, A., Rossmann, B., Von, D., & Hartmann, E. (2019). Real-time data processing in supply chain management: revealing the uncertainty dilemma. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 49(10), 1003-1019.

  • Li, Y., Dai, J., & Cui, L. (2020). The impact of digital technologies on economic and environmental performance in the context of industry 4.0: a moderated mediation model. International Journal of Production Economics, 229, 107777.

  • Liu, S., McGree, J., Ge, Z., & Xie, Y. (2016). Computational and Statistical Methods for Analysing Big Data with Applications, Academic Press, London.

  • Pereira, V., & Bamel, U. (2021). Extending the resource and knowledge based view: A critical analysis into its theoretical evolution and future research directions. Journal of Business Research, 132, 557-570.

  • Radziwill, N. (2020). Why Digital Transformations Fail: The Surprising Disciplines of How to Take off and Stay Ahead (Book Review). Quality Management Journal, 27 (4), 242.

  • Shafiee M., Zare-Mehrjerdi Y., Govindan K. & Dastgoshade S. (2022). A causality analysis of risks to perishable product supply chain networks during the COVID-19 outbreak era: An extended DEMATEL method under Pythagorean fuzzy environment.

  • Xie, Y., & Allen, C. (2013). Information technologies in retail supply chains: a comparison of Tesco and Asda. International Journal of Business Performance and Supply Chain Modelling, 5(1), 46-62.

  • Zhang-Zhang, Y. Y., Rohlfer, S., Varma, A., Business, J. O., & Woodside, A. G. (2022). Strategic people management in contemporary highly dynamic VUCA contexts: a knowledge worker perspective. Journal of Business Research, 144, 587-598.