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Paradoxes In Supply Chains: A Conceptual Framework For Packed Products

Henrik Pålsson, Erik Sandberg

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PurposeGrounded in paradox theory, and with the objective of structuring and extending existing knowledge of conflicts of interest (e.g. trade-offs) in packaging logistics, the purpose of this paper is to identify categories of paradoxical tensions in packaging systems used in supply chains, and to develop a conceptual framework that describes these categories.Design/methodology/approachThis research uses a theory building approach. It develops a conceptual framework of paradoxical tensions for packed products in supply chains. It revises and extends current knowledge in this domain by applying paradox theory from organisational research.FindingsThe paper develops a generic, conceptual framework that identifies, categorises and describes packed product paradoxes on two system levels: supply chain and company levels. The categories of paradoxes refer to performing, organising, belonging and learning.Research limitations/implicationsThe framework provides a new theoretical explanation of conflicts of interest in packaging logistics in terms of paradoxical tensions related to packed products in supply chains. It structures and increases general understanding of such tensions within and between actors in a supply chain. The paper also discusses differences in terminology between tensions which are possible to settle and those which lead to paradoxes.Practical implicationsThe framework provides a structure for analysing the organisational impact of strategic packaging decisions. It can help highlight different stakeholders' organisational constraints related to packaging.Originality/valueThe framework's systematic categorisation of four types of paradoxical tensions, with thorough descriptions of the meaning of packed product paradoxes of each type, offers an expanded and in-depth explanation of the organisational impacts of packed products in supply chains.