A growing number of private, voluntary and mandatory sustainability standards have recently emerged. However, supply chain corruption practices as mechanisms to circumvent sustainability standards have also grown and occur regularly. This paper strives to elaborate theory on the intersection of institutional theory, business corruption and the sustainability standards literature by investigating factors that influence the emergence of supply chain corruption practices.
Based on secondary data, four in-depth case studies of supply chain corruption practices are investigated through the use of adaptive theory and the method of constant comparisons to elaborate theory on this important phenomenon.
The paper suggests that although sustainability standards can improve supply chain sustainability performance, if they are adopted only symbolically and not substantively, unanticipated outcomes such as supply chain corruption may occur. The study proposes a typology of supply chain corruption practices, further explores the symbolic adoption of sustainability standards in supply chains and proposes the novel construct of “social isomorphism for corruption.” Since focal companies play central roles in leading supply chain corruption practices, we reason that they can also play a pivotal role in preventing supply chain corruption practices by promoting the substantive adoption of sustainability standards across their supply chains.
This paper elaborates theory on the challenging phenomenon of corruption in supply chains by linking the supply chain management literature to the corruption and the sustainability discourses and offers important insights to aid our understanding on the topic. It generates six propositions and four contributions to the sustainable supply chain management theory, practice and policy.
This research was funded by the University of Manitoba Transport Institute (UMTI) at the Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, Canada; The authors appreciate the insightful comments from Reviewers and Guest Editors.
Silvestre, B.S., Viana, F.L.E. and Sousa Monteiro, M.d. (2020), "Supply chain corruption practices circumventing sustainability standards: wolves in sheep's clothing", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 40 No. 12, pp. 1873-1907. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-06-2019-0454
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