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“We have always been responsible”: A social memory approach to responsibility in supply chains

Olof Brunninge (Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden)
Helgi-Valur Fridriksson (Department of Urban Studies, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The aim of this study is to discuss what implications referencing to the past can have on how firms manage their supply chains and communicate about them, drawing on the social memory literature.


In a conceptual manner, the authors connect the field of responsible supply chain management to the growing literature on corporate heritage and social memory in organizations.


The authors develop seven propositions related to the communication of the past and its connection to responsible supply chain management.

Research limitations/implications

A social memory perspective can inform supply chain management research, by helping to better understand how and with what consequences the past can be used in communication about supply chains. This paper is conceptual in nature and empirical investigations would be needed to support and/or modify the literature-based findings.

Practical implications

Managers should be aware that both opportunities and risks are associated with communicating the past in connection to responsible supply chain management. Deployed in the right way, such communication can be valuable both in marketing and in internal management processes.


This article introduces the social memory perspective to the supply chain management field and shows what implications it can have for research on responsibility in supply chains.



Brunninge, O. and Fridriksson, H.-V. (2017), "“We have always been responsible”: A social memory approach to responsibility in supply chains", European Business Review, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 372-383.



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