Purdue University Graduate School

File(s) under permanent embargo

Reason: Requesting indefinite embargo by committee decision


posted on 2019-06-10, 17:48 authored by Cagatay TasdemirCagatay Tasdemir
Global trends and factors, such as the increased level of globalization, climate change, resource scarcity, and awareness of social and environmental responsibilities, as well as fiercer competition and lower profit margins in all industries, force organizations to act to retain, regain, or sustain their competitive advantages for long-term survival. These trends and factors are historically known to bring about innovations that drive the evolution of industries. Sustainability is considered to be such an innovation to achieve fiscally sound, environmentally conscious, and socially progressive organizations and supply chains. Sustainable Development and Sustainability notions are among trending topics of 21st century. Elevated sustainability concerns of various stakeholders have been forcing members of all industries to evolve into their more environmentally and socially responsible versions. This study was initiated through a comprehensive literature review phase that reviewed 477 articles published in five major databases from 1990 to 2018. The purpose of this review was to assess the current state-of-the art on the subject of lean-driven sustainability. Based on descriptive and contextual analysis, synergies, divergences, and the extent of two-way permeability of lean and sustainability concepts from the perspective of intra- and inter-organizational operations were identified along with future research opportunities. Fundamental strengths and weaknesses of both concepts, existing strong synergies and untapped potential, along with their key contributors, the potential-use cases of lean tools to derive sustainable solutions are highlighted in this review. Next, based on the findings of systematic literature review, an innovative, holistic, versatile and scalable tool was developed to assess and benchmark sustainability performance of organizations and supply chains. The proposed framework was established upon trivet structure of Triple Bottom Line philosophy and fueled by Lean, Six-Sigma and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies for accurate and effective measurement of sustainability performance. Completeness of the framework was ensured through development of first-generation Key Performance Indicator (KPI) pool with 33 indicators, a unique work environment assessment mechanism for safety and environmental protection issues in terms of 11 risk categories and by construction of an ownership structure for ease of framework deployment. Proposed framework is expected to help with true sustainability performance improvement and benchmarking objectives at a range of business levels from facility to sectoral operations. Upon completion of the development phase, the Sustainability Benchmarking Tool (SBT) Framework was validated at the facility level within the context of value-added wood products manufacturing. Strengths and weaknesses of the system were identified within the scope of Bronze Frontier maturity level of the framework and tackled through a six-step analytical and quantitative reasoning methodology. The secondary objective of the validation phase was to document how value-added wood products industries can take advantage of natural properties of wood to become frontiers of sustainability innovation. In the end, True Sustainability performance of the target facility was improved by 2.37 base points, while economic and environmental performance was increased from being a system weakness to achieving an acceptable index score benchmark of 8.41 and system strength level of 9.31, respectively. Social sustainability score increased by 2.02 base points as a function of better gender bias ratio. The financial performance of the system improved from a 33% loss to 46.23% profit in the post-improvement state. Reductions in CO2 emissions (55.16%), energy consumption (50.31%), solid waste generation (72.03%), non-value-added-time (89.30%) and cost performance (64.77%) were other significant achievements of the study. In the end, SBT Framework was successfully validated at the facility level and target facility evolved into its leaner, cleaner and more responsible version of itself. Furthermore, manufacturing industries of all sorts are key stakeholders, which rely on universities to satisfy the demand for competent workforce. Society also expects universities to educate youth and contribute to their self-development by achieving both, scientific and intellectual knowledge saturation. To expand the contribution of the study to the body of knowledge in the fields of Sustainability and Modern Management techniques, an undergraduate level course curriculum that integrates modern management techniques and sustainability concepts with wood products industry dynamics was developed. Students’ pre- and post-education awareness of, and familiarity with sustainability, potential consequences of ignored sustainability issues, modern management techniques, global trends, innovation waves, and industry evolution were compared through a seventeen-question survey. Results showed that course content was successful at increasing sustainability awareness at both overall and individual sustainability pillar levels, At the end, 100% of students were able to develop complete understanding of various modern management techniques and stated that they felt confident to apply learnt skills to real life issues within their profession upon graduation. Overall, this study empirically documented how synergies between Lean, Sustainability, Six-Sigma and Life Cycle Assessment concepts outweigh their divergences, demonstrated viability of SBT Framework and presented a proven example of modern management techniques powered transdisciplinary sustainability curriculum.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Forestry and Natural Resources

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Rado Gazo

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Eva Haviarova

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Henry Quesada

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Salim Hiziroglu

Additional Committee Member 5

Dr. Bedrich Benes