Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level



Supply Chain Management


John Aloysius

Committee Member

Jon Johnson

Second Committee Member

Brian Fugate


Communication, Experiments, Ground theory, Supply chain, Supply chain professional, Sustainability


Organizations worldwide are reporting their commitment to create sustainable supply chains. Ultimately, supply chain professionals are the drivers of change within their respective organizations, so this dissertation examines the role of communication as a tool to persuade supply chain professionals to create sustainable supply chains. The three studies within this dissertation employ different methodologies to examine the role of communication in the development and implementation of sustainability initiatives. The first study, a grounded theory investigation, highlights the network, communication, and structural factors that provide a strong business case for the development of sustainability initiatives. A strong business case influences the supply chain professionals’ intentions positively and thereby leads to the voluntary adoption of activities conducive to the creation of a sustainable supply chain. While the first study outlines the important factors for the creation of a sustainable supply chain, the latter studies provide evidence of the efficacy of communication in motivating employees and supply chain partners to develop and implement sustainability initiatives. The second study, a field experiment, draws on the social psychology literature to highlight the effectiveness of normative messages in motivating voluntary pro-environmental behavior of employees (VPBE). The experiment used a 6x1 experimental design, and featured 645 trucks in a medium-sized trucking firm whose drivers received weekly messages. Two of the five messages were effective in inducing pro-environmental behavior. The third study, a vignette-based experiment, is built on the tenets of goal framing and investigates the role of inter-organizational communication as a means of persuasion for supply chain managers to implement sustainability initiatives within their organization. The results reveal the efficacy of tailoring communication based on the supply chain manager’s focus on sustainability. Together the three studies highlight the need to align communications and job responsibilities, which provides managerial insights regarding effective inter- and intra-organizational communications in the creation of sustainable supply chains. Thus, the dissertation contributes to the extant supply chain literature by highlighting the fact that communication as a tool is not limited to information exchange but can also be utilized for persuasion.