A systematic review of China’s belt and road initiative: implications for global supply chain management

Matthias Thürer, Ivan Tomašević, Mark Stevenson, Constantin Blome, Steven Melnyk, Hing Kai Chan, George Q. Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the world’s largest infrastructure projects, with its potential political and economic impact being widely discussed since its inception in 2013. Yet the phenomenon has received only limited attention in the Supply Chain Management (SCM) literature. In response, we first conduct a broad systematic review of the literature to assess how China’s BRI is portrayed. Using this as a backdrop, we then distil the likely impact of the BRI on location decisions and supply chain flows. Finally, in a broader discussion of the SCM literature, we explore the implications of the BRI for future research in four key areas: supply chain configuration, supply chain resilience, sustainable SCM, and cross border SCM. While these areas are not new, the BRI presents a unique context that can be used to enhance theory and understanding in each area. The BRI reduces time distance independent of geographical distance by diverting supply chain flows from established routes to new routes via far less accessible regions. This introduces new risks and sustainability issues that call for multi-criteria decision support systems. Another important issue is the adoption and diffusion of the BRI since this will ultimately determine project success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2436-2453
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • global manufacturing
  • global supply chain
  • supply chain design
  • supply chain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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