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Article
Publication date: 23 April 2021

Mark Stevenson

The purpose of this study is to provide new insight into the modern slavery threat and to enhance its detection in supply chains by understanding and addressing barriers…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to provide new insight into the modern slavery threat and to enhance its detection in supply chains by understanding and addressing barriers to whistleblowing. A broad definition of a whistle-blower is adopted, which includes any witness internal or external to an organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a viewpoint paper that includes using news reports and other secondary data sources on a recent modern slavery scandal in garment factories in Leicester, UK and the lens of the bystander effect from the social psychology literature. The core focus is on whistleblowing by members of the local community in which an operation or supply chain is embedded.

Findings

The phenomenon of modern slavery being an “open secret” within the local community is highlighted. But rather than the case being characterised by widespread whistleblowing, the problem only came into full focus when poor working conditions and forced labour during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions contributed to the spread of the virus. It is argued that overcoming this “bystander effect” can lead to the greater mobilisation of modern slavery whistleblowing.

Research limitations/implications

Two sets of propositions and a conceptual model are provided and seven future research suggestions are outlined, including extending the present study to whistleblowing by victims and other internal members of an organisation or supply chain.

Practical implications

If it can be mobilised, then whistleblowing has the potential to be an important part of detecting modern slavery, either temporarily replacing audits where they are not possible due to social distancing restrictions or directing the use of limited auditing resources to high-risk factories. In this way, combinations of practices can be effectively used to tackle the threat.

Social implications

This contributes to addressing an important societal problem and one of the grandest challenges facing modern-day supply chains. This, it has been argued, is an even bigger problem now than ever before given the economic and market conditions created by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to focus on operationalising the practice of whistleblowing as a source of greater supply chain intelligence to aid modern slavery detection. Causes of the bystander effect include the perceived low-emergency threat of modern slavery, the high-ambiguity environment, a low bystander responsibility and low assistance/intervention incentive. Countermeasures include elevating the emergency status of modern slavery, creating a shared sense of responsibility for tackling the problem, having clear reporting channels and taking swift and consistent action when instances of modern slavery are detected.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 13 April 2018

Mark Stevenson and Rosanna Cole

The purpose of this study is to examine how organisations report on the detection and remediation of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains and to understand…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how organisations report on the detection and remediation of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains and to understand their approaches to disclosing information in response to modern slavery legislation.

Design/methodology/approach

An analysis of secondary data based on the statements is released in response to the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act by 101 firms in the clothing and textiles sector.

Findings

Many firms use the same practices to detect and remediate modern slavery as for other social issues. But the hidden, criminal nature of modern slavery and the involvement of third party labour agencies mean practices need to either be tailored or other more innovative approaches developed, including in collaboration with traditional and non-traditional actors. Although five broad types of disclosure are identified, there is substantial heterogeneity in the statements. It is posited however that firms will converge on a more homogenous set of responses over time.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to one industry, responses to UK legislation and the information disclosed by focal firms only. Future research could expand the focus to include other industries, country contexts and stakeholders.

Practical implications

Managers must consider how their own firm’s behaviour contributes to the modern slavery threat, regulates both their stock and non-stock supply chains and ensures modern slavery is elevated from the procurement function to the boardroom. In making disclosures, managers may trade-off the potential competitive gains of transparency against the threat of information leakage and reputational risk should their statements be falsified. The managers should also consider what signals their statements send back up the chain to (sub-)suppliers. Findings also have potential policy implications.

Originality/value

The study expands the authors’ understanding of: modern slavery from a supply chain perspective, e.g. identifying the importance of standard setting and risk avoidance; and, supply chain information disclosure in response to legislative demands. This is the first academic paper to examine the statements produced by organisations in response to the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 11 October 2021

Meng Jia, Mark Stevenson and Linda Caroline Hendry

This study aims to study how first-tier suppliers (FTs) operate as boundary-spanners between the focal firm and second-tier suppliers (STs) in extending…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to study how first-tier suppliers (FTs) operate as boundary-spanners between the focal firm and second-tier suppliers (STs) in extending sustainability-oriented supplier development (SSD) initiatives up the supply chain.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory multi-case study approach in the apparel industry is adopted, comprised of four cases focused on occupational health and safety issues. The paper uses primary semi-structured interviews and observation data and secondary documents, and it is informed by the boundary-spanning and social capital theory.

Findings

The influence of downstream social capital on the upstream boundary-spanning actions of FTs is highlighted. More specifically, it is found that the cognitive and relational capital that exists in the downstream relationship between an FT and the focal firm affects whether the FT adopts compliance- or improvement-oriented boundary-spanning actions in their upstream relationships with STs. Particularly important aspects of cognitive and relational capital are highlighted while the phenomenon of FTs adding their own personal interpretation to sustainability requirements when fulfilling their boundary-spanning role is identified.

Research limitations/implications

A distinction is made between compliance- and improvement-oriented boundary-spanning actions. A deeper insight into the boundary-spanning role of FTs in extending SSD initiatives up the supply chain to STs is provided along with a deeper understanding of how this role is impacted by social capital.

Practical implications

Focal firms should seek to build adequate cognitive and relational capital with their FTs before deploying SSD initiatives to extend their reach further upstream in the supply chain. In doing so, it is also important to be cognisant of the social capital that exists between FTs and STs.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the SSD literature by going beyond the buyer–FT dyad to examine the FT's boundary-spanning role in the wider buyer–FT–ST chain relationship. The study theoretically and empirically draws out the importance of relation-specific assets through the social capital lens.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 21 May 2020

Yiyi Fan, Mark Stevenson and Fang Li

The aim of the study is to explore how two dimensions of interpersonal relationships (i.e. size and range of relationships) affect supplier-initiating risk management…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the study is to explore how two dimensions of interpersonal relationships (i.e. size and range of relationships) affect supplier-initiating risk management behaviours (SIRMB) and supply-side resilience. Further, the study aims to explore the moderating role of dependence asymmetry.

Design/methodology/approach

Nine hypotheses are tested based on a moderated mediation analysis of survey data from 247 manufacturing firms in China. The data are validated using a subset of 57 attentive secondary respondents and archival data.

Findings

SIRMB positively relates to supply-side resilience. Further, SIRMB mediates the positive relationship between range and supply-side resilience, and this relationship is stronger at lower levels of dependence asymmetry. Yet, although dependence asymmetry positively moderates the relationship between range and SIRMB, it negatively moderates the relationship between size and SIRMB. We did not, however, find evidence that size has a conditional indirect effect on supply-side resilience through SIRMB.

Practical implications

Managers in buying firms can incentivise SIRMB to enhance supply-side resilience by developing a diverse rather than a large set of interpersonal relationships with a supplier. This might include allocating particular employees with a wide range of contacts within a supplier to that relationship, while it may be necessary to adopt different networking strategies for different supplier relationships. Firms in a highly asymmetrical relationship may seek to raise supplier expectations about the necessity to initiate risk management behaviour or look to change the dynamic of the relationship by managing contracts for fairness.

Originality/value

New knowledge on SIRMB as a mediating variable underpinning the relationship between interpersonal relationships and supply-side resilience is provided; and empirical evidence on the opposing moderation effect of dependence asymmetry is presented.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 40 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 26 January 2018

Araceli Rojo, Mark Stevenson, Francisco Javier Lloréns Montes and Maria Nieves Perez-Arostegui

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the relationship between environmental dynamism and supply chain flexibility (SCF) and to evaluate if two dynamic capabilities…

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1931

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the relationship between environmental dynamism and supply chain flexibility (SCF) and to evaluate if two dynamic capabilities, i.e. operational absorptive capacity (OAC) and organisational learning (OL), are necessary competences for firms to develop such a responsive supply chain strategy as flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach

Hypothesised relationships are tested with survey data from 302 Spanish manufacturing firms using structural equations modelling.

Findings

Environmental dynamism is positively associated with both OAC and OL, and both dynamic capabilities enable SCF. The authors also find that the relationship between environmental dynamism and SCF is partially mediated by both dynamic capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

The study contributes to the literature, for example, by determining when it is advantageous to develop SCF, by specifying what capabilities a firm needs to develop to align SCF with the environment, and by opening the black box that is the relationship between the environment and SCF.

Practical implications

Managers should develop SCF via OAC and OL when they detect a high degree of environmental dynamism. Knowing when this is necessary relies on a good understanding of the environment. OAC is found to be a stronger enabler of SCF than OL. The findings provide managers with an insight into why some firms are able to develop more effective responses to dynamic environments than others.

Originality/value

This study is one of only a limited number of studies that adopt a dynamic capabilities approach to supply chain management. Prior literature has shown that dynamic capabilities can aid in developing strategic, structural, and operational flexibility. The authors extend this literature by showing that OAC and OL have an effect on SCF.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 15 October 2021

Yuan Huang, Daniel R. Eyers, Mark Stevenson and Matthias Thürer

The study aims to examine a discrepant industrial case that demonstrates how to achieve economies of scale with additive manufacturing (AM), thereby expanding the scope of…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to examine a discrepant industrial case that demonstrates how to achieve economies of scale with additive manufacturing (AM), thereby expanding the scope of AM beyond high-variety, customised production contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

Abductive reasoning is applied to analyse a case of using AM to compete with conventional production, winning a contract to supply 7,700,000 products. Comparing this case to existing theories and contemporary practices reveals new research directions and practical insights.

Findings

Economies of scale were realised through a combination of technological innovation and the adoption of operations management practices atypical of AM shops (e.g. design for volume, low-cost resource deployment and material flow optimisation). The former improved AM process parameters in terms of time, cost and dependability; the latter improved the entire manufacturing system, including non-AM operations/resources. This system-wide improvement has been largely overlooked in the literature, where AM is typically viewed as a disruptive technology that simplifies manufacturing processes and shortens supply chains.

Originality/value

It is empirically shown that an AM shop can achieve economies of scale and compete with conventional manufacturing in high-volume, standardised production contexts.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 11 January 2018

Yiyi Fan and Mark Stevenson

The purpose of this paper is to review the extant literature on supply chain risk management (SCRM, including risk identification, assessment, treatment, and monitoring)…

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9042

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the extant literature on supply chain risk management (SCRM, including risk identification, assessment, treatment, and monitoring), developing a comprehensive definition and conceptual framework; to evaluate prior theory use; and to identify future research directions.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic literature review of 354 articles (published 2000-2016) based on descriptive, thematic, and content analysis.

Findings

There has been a considerable focus on identifying risk types and proposing risk mitigation strategies. Research has emphasised organisational responses to supply chain risks and made only limited use of theory. Ten key future research directions are identified.

Research limitations/implications

A broad, contemporary understanding of SCRM is provided; and a new, comprehensive definition is presented covering the process, pathway, and objectives of SCRM, leading to a conceptual framework. The research agenda guides future work towards maturation of the discipline.

Practical implications

Managers are encouraged to adopt a holistic approach to SCRM. Guidance is provided on how to select appropriate risk treatment actions according to the probability and impact of a risk.

Originality/value

The first review to consider theory use in SCRM research and to use four SCRM stages to structure the review.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 48 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 12 July 2021

Marisel Fernandez-Giordano, Mark Stevenson, Leopoldo Gutierrez and Javier Llorens-Montes

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to evaluate the roles of a transactive memory system and the supply network flexibility (SNF) of the firm as antecedents of a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to evaluate the roles of a transactive memory system and the supply network flexibility (SNF) of the firm as antecedents of a firm’s supply chain agility (FSCA), also incorporating the moderating role of the transactive memory system; and, second, to evaluate the relationship between FSCA and operations performance (OP).

Design/methodology/approach

Four hypothesized relationships are tested with survey data from 190 high-tech firms using structural equation models.

Findings

FSCA can be enhanced through the transactive memory system and SNF, although a higher degree of transactive memory system weakens the positive relationship between SNF and FSCA. A positive relationship is identified between FSCA and OP, while FSCA mediates the relationship between SNF and OP.

Practical implications

Managers can increase FSCA and improve OP by developing both the transactive memory system and SNF. Given that firms have limited resources, investment in internal capabilities should be prioritized as this appears to be more effective at developing FSCA.

Originality/value

The findings expand the literature by exploring two antecedents of FSCA and by analyzing the impact of FSCA on different measures of OP. Few prior studies have highlighted the importance of the transactive memory system to the operations function.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 5 July 2018

Yiyi Fan and Mark Stevenson

This paper aims to investigate how supply chain risks can be identified in both collaborative and adversarial buyer–supplier relationships (BSRs).

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1532

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate how supply chain risks can be identified in both collaborative and adversarial buyer–supplier relationships (BSRs).

Design/methodology/approach

This research includes a multiple-case study involving ten Chinese manufacturers with two informants per organisation. Data have been interpreted from a multi-level social capital perspective (i.e. from both an individual and organisational level), supplemented by signalling theory.

Findings

Buyers use different risk identification strategies or apply the same strategy in different ways according to the BSR type. The impact of organisational social capital on risk identification is contingent upon the degree to which individual social capital is deployed in a way that benefits an individual’s own agenda versus that of the organisation. Signalling theory generally complements social capital theory and helps further understand how buyers can identify risks, especially in adversarial BSRs, e.g. by using indirect signals from suppliers or other supply chain actors to “read between the lines” and anticipate risks.

Research limitations/implications

Data collection is focussed on China and is from the buyer side only. Future research could explore other contexts and include the supplier perspective.

Practical implications

The types of relationships that are developed by buyers with their supply chain partners at an organisational and an individual level have implications for risk exposure and how risks can be identified. The multi-level analysis highlights how strategies such as employee rotation and retention can be deployed to support risk identification.

Originality/value

Much of the extant literature on supply chain risk management is focussed on risk mitigation, whereas risk identification is under-represented. A unique case-based insight is provided into risk identification in different types of BSRs by using a multi-level social capital approach complemented by signalling theory.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 18 October 2018

Linda Caroline Hendry, Mark Stevenson, Jill MacBryde, Peter Ball, Maysara Sayed and Lingxuan Liu

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how local supply chains prepare for and respond to the threats and opportunities presented by constitutional change, thereby…

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5146

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how local supply chains prepare for and respond to the threats and opportunities presented by constitutional change, thereby building resilience.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple case study analysis of 14 firms in the food sector is presented in the context of the UK’s impending exit from the European Union (Brexit). Organisations studied include farmers, processors, retailers and non-government organisations (NGOs). Data from interviews and roundtable discussions has been interpreted using the dynamic capabilities perspective, covering the sensing, seizing, and transforming stages.

Findings

The data highlights the importance of both vertical and horizontal collaboration between supply chain actors as they seek to anticipate the impact of the disruption and influence the future shape of the constitution. There is also evidence to suggest firms in possession of dynamic capabilities can innovate to build resilience and enhance their competitive position. Characteristics of the disruption posed by constitutional change are identified and contrast with those of many other threats more typically described in the literature. As a result, the process of building resilience is different.

Research limitations/implications

The study could be extended to include post-Brexit interviews to further understand the seizing and transforming stages whilst the impact of Brexit on actors that remain within the EU could also be considered.

Practical implications

Practitioners need to work together to influence the future shape of the constitution; and they need to reconfigure their operations and supply chains where necessary to become more resilient to the threat posed by Brexit, such as by reducing their reliance on EU funding streams and trade. The study also has policy implications.

Originality/value

The first study of supply chain resilience to constitutional change and a rare empirical study of resilience across multiple supply chain tiers.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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