How to become central in an informal social network: An investigation of the antecedents to network centrality in an environmental SCM initiative

Barbara K. Wichmann, Craig Carter, Lutz Kaufmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Environmental supply chain management (SCM) initiatives often evolve as informal, grassroots efforts that are driven by policy entrepreneurs at lower management levels in an organization. These individuals usually are not in positions of power or authority to convince others to support the initiative. They thus rely on central positions in informal networks to gain access to and influence over other employees to be better able to sell these initiatives. This study examines how individuals arrive at positions of centrality within the networks surrounding environmental SCM initiatives. Linking social network theory and social capital theory with findings from the organizational behavior and environmental arena, the study investigates how an individual's proactive personality and commitment profile - affective, normative, and continuance commitment - might affect network centrality through the mediating role of championing behavior. Investigating the implementation of an environmental SCM initiative at a multinational enterprise, the authors identified a 90-actor social network surrounding the initiative. The results provide evidence that championing behavior fully mediates the relationship between commitment and network centrality and to a lesser extent between proactive personality and network centrality. These findings suggest that championing behavior can enable an actor to become more central in social networks. Further, the results indicate that in an environmental SCM context, engendering the right type of commitment is a much more important driver of championing behavior than the proactive personalities of individual actors. This finding suggests that even employees who do not have proactive personalities can champion environmental initiatives and become central within the informal networks that surround these initiatives, if they strongly desire to support the initiative and believe that the initiative will lead to positive change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-119
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Logistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • centrality
  • championing behavior
  • commitment
  • environmental supply chain management
  • proactivity
  • social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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