Building and testing necessity theories in supply chain management

Jon Bokrantz*, Jan Dul

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
262 Downloads (Pure)


This article contributes to the Emerging Discourse Incubator initiative by presenting how supply chain management scholars can contribute to theory development by means of necessity theories. These are unique theories that inform what level of a concept must be present to achieve a desired level of the outcome. Necessity theories consist of concepts that are necessary but not sufficient conditions for an outcome, where the absence of a single causal concept ensures the absence of the outcome. The theoretical features of necessary conditions have important implications for understanding supply chain management phenomena and providing practical applications. In 2016, Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA) became available for building and testing necessity theories with empirical data. However, NCA has not yet been used for the development of supply chain management theories. Therefore, we explain how necessity theories can be built and tested in a supply chain management context using necessity logic and the empirical methodology of NCA. We intend to inspire scholars to develop novel necessity theories that deepen or renew our understanding of supply chain management phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-65
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Early online date26 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Anders Skoogh, Department of Industrial and Materials Science,
Chalmers University of Technology, for his support and contributions to the article. We also direct our gratitude
toward Finn Wynstra, Jelle de Vries, René de Koster, and Erik van Raaij for their constructive feedback on earlier
versions of this article during the first author’s research visit to the Department of Technology and Operations
Management, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. This work has been performed
within the Sustainable Production Initiative and the Production Area of Advance at Chalmers.
The support is greatly appreciated. We would also like to thank the JSCM editorial team and the three anonymous reviewers
for their in-depth and constructive comments that helped tremendously in improving the quality of this article.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Supply Chain Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


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