The role of governance from a sustainable supply chain management perspective is receiving more attention from scholars and practitioners. However, several aspects still remain unclear including how corporate sustainability approaches are implemented and aligned with governance mechanisms at the supply chain level. With the aim of filling this gap in the literature, an empirical investigation is proposed by analysing seven case studies through the lenses of contingency theory, the strategic alignment perspective and the resource-based view of organisations. Findings include the characterisation of three sustainability profiles, namely sustainability leaders, sustainability practitioners and traditionalists; a classification of the governance mechanisms on the basis of their level of collaboration and formalisation; the identification of factors that enable governance mechanisms. The empirical results are useful to practitioners seeking to implement sustainability initiatives at the supply chain level, and to scholars for further theory development and refinement.