This paper seeks to explore the integration of social issues in the management of supply chains from an operations management perspective. Further, this research aims to develop a set of scales to measure multiple dimensions of supplier socially responsible practices. Finally, the paper examines the importance of three dimensions of supply chain structure, namely transparency, dependency and distance, for the adoption of these socially responsible practices.
Drawing on literature from several theoretical streams, current best‐practice in leading firms and emerging international standards, four dimensions of supplier socially responsible practices were identified. Also, a multi‐dimensional conceptualization of supply chain structure, including transparency, dependency and distance, was synthesized from earlier research. Using this conceptual development, a large‐scale survey of plant managers in three industries in Canada provided an empirical basis for validating these constructs, and then assessing the relationships between structure and practices.
Multi‐item scales for each of the four dimensions of supplier socially responsible practices were validated empirically: supplier human rights; supplier labour practices; supplier codes of conduct; and supplier social audits. Increased transparency, as reflected in greater product visibility by the end‐consumer was related to increased use of supplier human rights, which in turn can help to protect a firm's brands. Organizational distance, as measured by the total length of the supply chain (number of tiers in the supply chain), was related to increased use of multiple supplier socially responsible practices. Finally, as the plant was positioned further upstream in the supply chain, managers reported increased use of supplier codes of conduct.
As senior managers extend, redesign or restructure their supply chains, the extent to which social issues must be monitored and managed changes. The four categories of supplier socially responsible practices identified help managers characterize their firm's approach to managing social issues. Furthermore, managers must more actively manage the development of supplier socially responsible practices in their firms when the supply chain has more firms; and when brands have stronger recognition in the marketplace.
The paper makes three contributions to the extant literature. First, the construct of social issues is defined and framed within the broader debate on sustainable development and stakeholder management. Second, social practices are delineated for supply chain management, and a set of scales is empirically validated for assessing the degree of development of supplier socially responsible practices. Finally, the link between supply chain structure and the adoption of supplier socially responsible practices is examined. This last contribution provides a basis for understanding, so that managers can extend and reshape current views about how social issues must be managed.
Awaysheh, A. and Klassen, R. (2010), "The impact of supply chain structure on the use of supplier socially responsible practices", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 30 No. 12, pp. 1246-1268. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443571011094253Download as .RIS
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