Could Lean Practices and Process Innovation Enhance Supply Chain Sustainability of Small and Medium sized Enterprises?

Prasanta K Dey, Chrisovalantis Malesios, Debashree De, Soumyadeb Chowdhury, Fouad Ben Abdelaziz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) adopt lean practices (LP) to reduce waste across their organisational value chain, which helps achieve sustainability. Process innovation (PI) has also been applied through cleaner production, environmental management system, ecodesign, and so on to address both customers' needs and legislations by policymakers. Although prior studies reveal the effect of sustainable practices, LP, and PI on sustainable performance separately, less is known on the integrated effect of them on sustainability performance. Moreover, studies on mediating effect of LP and PI on sustainability performance are scant. This is significant as LP and PI are considered to be the enablers for achieving sustainability performance. This research addresses this knowledge gap. The research first theorises a model integrating these four major constructs (sustainability practices, LP, PI, and sustainability performance) through hypotheses development. Subsequently, using structural equation modelling, it is tested whether each of sustainability practices, LP, and PI effect sustainability performances. Additionally, mediating effect of LP and PI between sustainability practices and performances is derived. The study uses data from 119 SMEs within manufacturing industries in the Midlands, United Kingdom. Further, a few case studies have been undertaken to validate the findings from quantitative analysis. The overall results show that although sustainability practices, LP, and PI help achieve sustainability performance of SMEs supply chain through efficiency and responsiveness respectively, the mediating effect LP is more compared with PI. Moreover, SMEs adopt LP when they are economy focused and implement PI when they are pressurised by customers and/or policymakers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-598
Number of pages17
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Dey PK, Malesios C, De D, Chowdhury S, Abdelaziz FB. Could lean practices and process innovation enhance supply chain sustainability of small and medium‐sized enterprises? Bus Strat Env. 2019;1–17, which has been published in final form at  This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.


  • lean practices
  • process innovation
  • small and medium-sized enterprises
  • structural equation modelling
  • sustainability performance
  • sustainability practices


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