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Digitalisation for sustainability in procurement within the textile value chain : Analysis of artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and blockchain

  • Jentsch, Theresa
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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Background/ Problem/Purpose: Sustainability and Digitalisation are two buzzwords nowadays. The textile value chain is one of the most criticised value chains with respects to ecological as well as social sustainability. Thus, it seems a worthwhile project to be examined in the context of how digital technologies can be used to support sustainability aspirations. Academic literature rarely describes the relation between sustainability and digitalisation in a theoretical and empirical way. Most studies focus on one of the two topics, especially in the context of textile procurement. The purpose of this study is to investigate to which extent digital technologies, such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation, can contribute to sustainable procurement in the textile value chain. Methodology: The study follows a qualitative approach and combines insights obtained by means of conducted semi-structured interviews combined with secondary data related to the studied cases. While embracing an abductive approach, the data analysis follows the extended six-dimension model by Münch et al. (2022) based on the socio-technical system theory. The findings were summarised in two frameworks and discussed in the context of the socio-technical system theory and academic literature. Findings – Through the differentiated model, the findings shed light on the relationship between sustainability and digitalisation in the context of textile procurement. Internal and external organisational aspects of technology implementation were identified for digital tools towards sustainability in the textile procurement. Consequently, possible external and internal drivers, challenges and requirements could be identified for implementing digital technologies. Moreover, the contribution of specifically Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence as well as Blockchain to sustainable procurement in the textile value chain was analysed and compared. Originality/Value – This study combines, as one of the few, sustainability and digitalisation in the context of the textile value chain. It provides an insight into external as well as internal aspects that can foster or hamper the successful implementation of advanced digital technologies, as well as requirements needed for a successful implementation. Furthermore, the study applies the theory of socio-technical system theory in the context of sustainability and digitalisation. The study offers practitioners a better understanding of the potential effects of advanced digital technologies towards sustainable procurement. It also provides a framework that can support the sustainability driven implementation of advanced digital technologies. 

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