The implementation of social responsibility in purchasing in Hong Kong/Pearl River Delta

Antonio, K.W. Lau (Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1753-8297

Publication date: 22 February 2011



In response to stakeholder concerns for social responsibility in global supply chains, companies have implemented codes of conduct in outsourcing activities. The purpose of this paper is to examine empirically how a multinational buying office implements its social responsibility and the codes in purchasing activities in the Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta (HK/PRD) region.


This paper reports a case study that reviews the experience from three sourcing projects of a multinational buying office in the HK/PRD region. This company has successfully adopted purchasing social responsibility (PSR) practices for years.


The results show that the environment, ethics, health and safety, and human rights are more important than diversity, community, and financial responsibility in PSR practices in the HK/PRD region. The benefits of adopting PSR include reduced operating costs, enhanced brand image and reputation, increased sales and customer loyalty, increased productivity and quality, increased ability to attract and retain employees, and risk management. The challenges include the cost of compliance, communication with uneducated workers, conflicts among different codes of conduct and sub‐contracting.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reflects the recent PSR situation in the HK/PRD region, primarily giving new insights for future research.


The paper provides empirical evidence on PSR implementation in the HK/PRD region, proposing seven core/non‐core dimensions of PSR and identifying the benefits and obstacles to its implementation. The paper provides academic and managerial guidelines for implementing PSR practices in the HK/PRD region.



Antonio, . and Lau, K. (2011), "The implementation of social responsibility in purchasing in Hong Kong/Pearl River Delta", Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 13-46.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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