An Analytical Method for Investigating Multi-Tier Sustainable Supply Chains: Simplifying the Complex

Sherwat Ibrahim, Chunguang Bai, Joseph Sarkis
DOI number


The multi-tier sustainable supply chain relationship (MSSCR) is a socially important topic receiving greater attention in the supply chain research community. MSSCR research investigation is difficult. There is greater complexity associated with broader sets of organizations, practices, objectives, and interconnectivities. These complexities make it difficult to effectively study this environment using empirical statistical correlative research. This paper introduces a cluster rule methodology, based on K -Means clustering, rough set theory and cluster membership, to investigate these complex relationships. A conceptual case provides detailed insights for practitioners and researchers who may apply this methodology to evaluate complex relations and mitigate endogeneity problems. This methodology can help advance theory by analytically developing alternative explanatory relationships, equifinality, amongst variables, even in small sample data situations. Small data environments are especially evident in case study research. We call this define this method as a cluster rule methodology. Directions for future research are discussed.


Sherwat Elwan Ibrahim

The American University of Cairo

Joseph Sarkis

Foisie Business School of Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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