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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Available online 3 January 2013
Based on institutional theory, this study investigates the effects of three institutional pressures on top managers' posture towards reverse logistics implementation: government, customer, and competitor pressures. Survey data from 209 manufacturers of Pearl River Delta (PRD) in China reveal that: institutional pressures have a statistically significant positive influence on top managers' posture towards reverse logistics implementation. In addition, while top managers' posture is strongly related to product recovery, it is not related to product return. We also find that product recovery has a significant positive effect on a firm's economic and environmental performance. Conversely, the results suggest that product return negatively affects a firm's economic performance and has no effect on environmental performance. We highlight the managerial implications.
The remarkable progress in industrialization and economic development in the last two hundred years has accelerated the global interchange of people, goods, and information to such an extent that the natural environmental has been placed under a tremendous burden, exceeding its capacity for self-recovery. In recent years, the global warming issue has received a great deal of attention from both public and private organizations. The 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit highlights the importance of energy-saving, emissions reduction, and low-carbon economy in global economic development. More than ever, consumers, business enterprises, and governments are paying increasing attention to sustainable development. Under this situation, reverse logistics, which refers to the series of activities necessary to retrieve a returned, used or damaged product from the point of consumption to either dispose of it or recover economic and/or environmental value (Thierry et al., 1995, Rogers and Tibben-Lembke, 1999, Guide and Van Wassenhove, 2002 and Prahinski and Kocabasoglu, 2006) has been viewed as an effective way to improve resource productivity, reduce the negative impact to environment, and improve both business performance and environmental performance enabling firms to achieve competitive advantage (Marien, 1998, Meyer, 1999, Stock et al., 2002 and El korchi and Millet, 2011). The advantages of reverse logistics are twofold. First, firms are able to reduce their material and energy resource consumptions and thus reduce operating costs. Second, firms are able to generate revenue from returned, reconditioned or recycled products and materials that were previously discarded (Stock et al., 2002). A closed-loop supply chain with an effective reverse logistics network can help to solve the growing concern regarding environmental problems (Liste and Dekker, 2005, Salema et al., 2007, Neto et al., 2009 and Cruz-Rivera and Ertel, 2009). General Motors, Estee Lauder, Sears and IBM have gained a sizeable advantage over competitors through their implementation of a well-managed reverse logistics system (Meyer, 1999 and Stock et al., 2002). Reverse logistics is not yet a discipline that has attracted sufficient attention in China. Each year, the losses due to returns, excessive production and recalls of defective product have grown at an alarming rate (Lyles et al., 2008 and Roth et al., 2008). As the “world's factory”, Chinese manufacturers play a key role in the global supply chain and make great contributions to the development of global economics. At the same time, however, China is also one of the most polluted regions of the world. In addition, Chinese manufacturers are experiencing intense resource constraints and are required to comply with an increasing number of environmental regulations. These factors make the implementation of reverse logistics an enticing prospect for Chinese manufacturers, particularly those located in the most developed regions. Previous studies have identified a variety of antecedents to a firm's involvement with reverse logistics, mostly using case studies and anecdotal information. Relatively little research has examined large scale empirical data (Drumwright, 1994, Carter and Ellram, 1998 and Álvarez-Gil et al., 2007). In this study, through the lens of institutional theory, we provide further insights into why manufacturers engage in reverse logistics implementation. Institutional theory proposes that an organization can improve its abilities to grow and survive in a competitive environment by satisfying its various stakeholders (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983). Many studies recognized the importance of institutional theory to explain firm-level behaviors (Scott, 1995, Handelman and Arnold, 1999 and McFarland et al., 2008), and some also used it to explain the behaviors of individuals within firms (Chatterjee et al., 2002). Relying on institutional theory, this study assumes organizational decisions are based on the social structure in which the firm operates—both external and internal to the firm. Given China's predominantly centralized power and hierarchical culture (Lyles et al., 2008), the individual preferences of top managers are likely to mediate and buffer these organizational and interorganizational influences (Chatterjee et al., 2002 and Aragon-Correa et al., 2004). It is only whether top managers realize the importance of reverse logistics that they will add it to the strategic agenda and invest resources in its implementation (Kocabasoglu et al., 2007). Thus, we test whether top mangers' posture, which refers to top managers' attitude towards reverse logistics implementation, is a mediator in the relationship between institutional pressures – government, customer and competitor pressures – and reverse logistics implementation. Although many studies have implied that reverse logistics implementation affects both economic and environmental performance (Rogers and Tibben-Lembke, 2001, Autry et al., 2001, Minahan, 1998 and Trebilcock, 2002), large-scale research that has examined the impact of reverse logistics implementation on firm performance has found mixed results (Daugherty et al., 2001, Prahinski and Kocabasoglu, 2006 and Bernon et al., 2011). Thus, the second objective of this study is to explore the effect of reverse logistics implementation on firm performance—both economic and environmental. The paper is organized as follows. The literature is reviewed and the hypotheses are developed in Section 2. The research methodology and data analyses are described in Section 3. Section 4 discusses the empirical results and managerial implications. Concluding remarks and suggestions for further research are presented in Section 5.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study investigates the antecedents and outcomes of reverse logistics implementation through a large-scale study. We explore the antecedents of reverse logistics implementation from the perspective of institutional theory. Specifically, we propose that top mangers' posture is the mediator of the relationship between institutional pressures – government, customer and competitor – and reverse logistics implementation. In addition, we examine the relationship between reverse logistics implementation and the firm's economic and environmental performance. The empirical results suggest that the government, customers and competitors have statistically significant positive influences on top managers' posture towards reverse logistics implementation. However, top managers' posture appears to affect only product recovery practices, and does not appear to have a significant influence on product returns. We find that product recovery has a significant positive impact on both economic and environmental performance, but that product return has a negative impact on the firm's economic performance and no effect on the firm's environmental performance. The lack of significant results in our testing of the hypotheses associated with product returns leads to several interesting insights. First, it is possible that Chinese managers are not willing to establish a product return system due to the Chinese culture of saving face and a propensity to avoid admitting to errors. Second, government regulations emphasize product recovery, while neglecting opportunities associated with product returns. Third, China's product traceability system is at a nascent stage and is complicated by the large number of small suppliers. Fourth, the considerable time, money and effort required to establishing and maintaining a complex product return system that relies on supply chain collaboration and cooperation is a significant barrier. These factors may explain why top Chinese managers have not emphasized product return and why the existing product return system is poorly managed, has a negative effect on economic performance, and has no effect on environmental performance. The different model results between product recovery and product return suggest that managers view reverse logistics as a complex phenomenon; it is not one overarching system. Kocabasoglu et al. (2007) found that investments in reconditioning is distinctly different from investments in recycling and waste management, concluding that “the results suggest that companies have yet to perceive the <forward supply chain> investment and reconditioning as interdependent and to address the challenges of integrating these investments” (p. 1156). Similar to Kocabasoglu et al. (2007), we found that companies have not integrated product returns and product recovery, which would enable effective use of resources. Frequently, firms in the reverse supply chain manage product returns distinctly different from product recovery. This study provides several contributions to the existing literature on reverse logistics. First, this study empirically examines the antecedents of the implementation of reverse logistics through the lens of institutional theory. Second, this study examines top mangers' posture as the mediator of the relationship between institutional pressures and reverse logistics implementation, thereby helping to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the antecedents of reverse logistics implementation. Furthermore, by empirically testing a large-scale design, this study reinforces the existing evidence of factors that influence reverse logistics implementation by adding to the conceptualized models and anecdotal evidence presented in prior studies. Based on managerial responses from enterprises in the Pearl River Delta, this study provides a Chinese perspective of reverse logistics. In addition, this study provides interesting implications for both policy-makers and practitioners. First, policy-makers need to increase the education and publicity associated with recycling economics, cultivating entrepreneurs' social responsibility, and enhancing consumers' awareness of environmental friendly product consumption. These changes would enhance top managers' posture to adopt environmental practices and consumption of environmentally friendly products. Second, when policy-makers provide environmentally–friendly regulations, they encourage environmental practices; the enforcement of these environmental regulations should be strengthened. Finally, to enhance legislative initiatives regarding environmental practices, policy-makers should incorporate environmental-related indices into the top mangers' performance evaluation system, especially for large Chinese state-owned enterprises and heavy pollution industries. The mind-set of practitioners is critical to the success of reverse logistics systems. In today's global economy, practitioners must move beyond the interpretation that government regulation burdens practitioners with reverse logistics. The well-managed reverse logistics system is conducive to achieve the double bottom line of environmental and financial performance. Second, managers believe that the poorly managed reverse logistics will damage a firm's bottom line. To successfully operate a reverse logistics program, top managers should borrow the best practices on reverse logistics. IBM, Xerox, and Estee Lauder successfully incorporated reverse logistics into the firm's strategic agenda and invested the necessary resources. In conclusion, top managers should keep a close eye on trends and changes of governmental regulation, customers and competitors, so as to adjust the related environmental strategy quickly. The main limitation of this study is that we collected data solely from the Pearl River Delta. Although the Pearl River Delta is one of the most important regions in China from an economic perspective, and is the most important electronics products manufacturing base in the world, it is not representative of China as a whole. Since China is a large country with uneven economic development across regions (Zhao et al., 2006), our results cannot be generalized for the nation. Studies based on samples drawn from other regions, such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Bohai Sea economic area and the southwest, would provide for a degree of geographic and economic diversity and extend the generalizability of our results. A second limitation of our study is that it is based on cross-sectional data. A longitudinal study would enable us to draw causative implications associated with the effect of reverse logistics on economic and environmental performance. There are a number of worthy directions for future research. For example, since resources are needed to implement efficient reverse logistics systems, it would be interesting to examine the moderating effects of different types of resource investments such as technological, financial and managerial resources on reverse logistics implementation and performance. A comparative study on the differences in reverse logistics implementation across distinct industries and forms of ownership would provide further results that complement our findings.