Governance literature identifies so-called ‘leader firms’ as the directors of global value chains. But in what direction are they leading? Some leader firms actively try to make a transition towards sustainable supply chain practices, but how can this be assessed? Supply chain management literature provides fragmented insights into the antecedents of transition processes. They adopt a largely ‘top-down’, ‘inside-out’ perspective rather than (also) take a ‘bottom-up’ and ‘outside-in’ perspective in which the consequences for the business models of supplying firms at the bottom of the supply chain are rarely taken into account. This contribution develops a more integrated eclectic approach on sustainable supply business models. We conceptualise antecedents of change along consecutive stages of management that combines different supplier ‘upgrading’ approaches with different ways in which leader firms integrate suppliers in their purchasing strategies. We apply this model to the strategies of 10 leading Dutch companies active in Africa, but with different supply chain positions.

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Keywords Dutch lead companies, Social responsibility, sustainable supply chain management, transition stages
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Review of Social Economy
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van Lakerveld, A. (Anne), & van Tulder, R. (2017). Managing the transition to sustainable supply chain management practices: Evidence from Dutch leader firms in Sub-Saharan Africa. Review of Social Economy, 1–25. doi:10.1080/00346764.2017.1286033