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Unchaining supply chains: Transformative leaps toward regenerating social–ecological systems
The worsening climate, biodiversity, and inequity crises have existential implications. To help resolve these crises, supply chains must move beyond a minimal harm approach. Instead, supply chains must make positive contributions to and harmoniously integrate with the living systems around them. Despite agreement on this urgent need, supply chain management research still lacks a shared roadmap for establishing economically sustainable supply chains that actively regenerate social–ecological systems. This essay deepens the understanding of regenerative supply chains, inviting supply chain scholars and practitioners to rally around timely questions and codevelop new answers. We first scrutinize the paradigmatic assumptions that continue to anchor contemporary research and practice in supply chain management, showing how these once helpful assumptions now hold the community back from seeking much needed solutions. We then offer real-world examples and synthesize emerging arguments from multiple disciplines to propose three new principles of regenerative organizing: proportionality, reciprocity, and poly-rhythmicity. We also delve into the implications of pursuing these regenerative principles for supply chain coordination, governance, and resilience. Finally, we reflect on the fit of empirical research designs and methods for examining the creation of new regenerative supply chains and the conversion of existing supply chains.