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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2022

Ruoqi Geng, Hugo K.S. Lam and Mark Stevenson

There is still significant variation in firms' efforts to address modern slavery issues in supply chains despite the importance of this grand challenge. This research…

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Abstract

Purpose

There is still significant variation in firms' efforts to address modern slavery issues in supply chains despite the importance of this grand challenge. This research adopts the awareness-motivation-capability (AMC) framework to investigate AMC-related factors that help to explain this variation.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors hypothesize how AMC-related factors, including media coverage of modern slavery issues, slavery risks in supply chains and corporate sustainability performance, are related to firms' efforts to address modern slavery in supply chains. The proposed hypotheses are tested based on 201 UK firms' modern slavery statements and additional secondary data collected from Factiva, Factset Revere, The Global Slavery Index, Worldscope and Sustainalytics.

Findings

Consistent with the AMC perspective, the test results show that firms put more effort into addressing supply chain modern slavery issues when there is greater media coverage of these issues, when firms source from countries with higher slavery risks, and when firms have better corporate sustainability performance. Additional analysis further suggests that firms' financial performance is not related to their efforts to address modern slavery issues.

Originality/value

This is the first study adopting the AMC framework to investigate firms' efforts to address modern slavery in supply chains. This investigation provides important implications for researchers studying firm behaviors related to modern slavery issues and for policymakers designing policies that enable firms to address these issues, in view of their awareness, motivation and capability.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 42 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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…

2129

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

Keywords

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…

10160

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

Keywords

Content available
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

Keywords

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…

2216

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

Keywords

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…

1032

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

Keywords

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 July 2022

Nichapa Phraknoi, Jerry Busby and Mark Stevenson

This paper aims to investigate small and medium-sized upstream suppliers' and downstream distributors' understandings of supply chain finance (SCF) arrangements and their…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate small and medium-sized upstream suppliers' and downstream distributors' understandings of supply chain finance (SCF) arrangements and their decisions to adopt such schemes.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper grounded theory-informed methods are employed, involving 56 in-depth interviews with informants from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), banks and subject experts in the United Kingdom (UK) and Thailand. A category structure for the data is developed. The findings are then examined systematically from both a transaction cost economics (TCE) and non-TCE perspective.

Findings

SME members made sense of SCF through a core distinction between dyadic and triadic SCF arrangements. The former maintains independence between physical and financial supply chains, whereas the latter causes them to be closely coupled or even entangled. The SCF adoption decisions of SMEs were based on a consideration of four related aspects: relationality, awareness, control and context. The authors demonstrate the limits of TCE in explaining the findings, leading to a proposed combined theory of the transactional and, importantly, non-transactional influences on how SMEs make decisions about SCF.

Practical implications

Focal firms wanting their SME suppliers and distributors to participate in triadic SCF (TSCF), i.e. reverse factoring and distributor finance, need to understand that transitioning to such schemes involves the unwinding of existing financing arrangements, which may be problematic for SMEs. Moreover, it is important to be aware of SMEs' concerns, such as about what accessing TSCF might signal to the focal firm about their financial health and about the potential loss of control that might result from entangling the physical and financial aspects of supply chains.

Originality/value

This paper unpack the perspectives of both SME suppliers and distributors of large focal firms in supply chains. These firms appear less concerned with the economic advantages (transaction costs) of SCF and more concerned with the relational consequences or non-transactional costs of participation in a TSCF arrangement. The dyadic-triadic distinction provides a new and meaningful way of categorising SCF mechanisms, which also broadens the service triads’ literature from a focus on outsourcing services for a focal firm's customers to outsourcing financing for its suppliers or distributors. The paper also addresses gaps identified by Gelsomino et al. (2016) regarding the need for a general theory of SCF, for empirically-based holistic studies of SCF applications, and a tool for selecting SCF mechanisms.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 42 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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)…

13468

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 June 2022

Meng Jia, Linda Caroline Hendry and Mark Stevenson

To study the learning processes and mechanisms involved in sustainability-oriented supplier development (SSD), including how knowledge is transmitted by the buyer and how…

Abstract

Purpose

To study the learning processes and mechanisms involved in sustainability-oriented supplier development (SSD), including how knowledge is transmitted by the buyer and how it is received, understood and internalised by the supplier.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory longitudinal multi-case study approach is adopted. The research context is a social SSD project focusing on occupational health and safety (OHS) management at four supplier factories. The paper draws on the constructs of absorptive capacity and boundary objects.

Findings

The development of a supplier's absorptive capacity for OHS management is triggered by the transfer of boundary objects that are created by the buyer. Findings suggest that each supplier starts explorative learning in a similar and passive way in order to accept the knowledge, but then each supplier proactively transforms and exploits the knowledge through continuous sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring loops that develop the boundary objects in a way that fits their own needs and contexts, incorporating the objects into organisational structures and routines.

Research limitations/implications

The research furthers the understanding of the development of supplier absorptive capacity for sustainability via SSD projects, including how it is triggered and sustained. The impact of ostensive and performative aspects of boundary objects on knowledge transfer is presented. Finally, insight is provided into how absorptive capacity and dynamic capabilities are linked in the context of SSD.

Practical implications

Buying firms should seek to develop boundary objects that can trigger and maintain learning momentum for sustainability at supplier organisations in addition to effectively transferring SSD-related sustainability knowledge. There is also a need to allow for sufficient flexibility in the design of the boundary objects, and to pay sufficient attention to how suppliers contextualise and embed them into their own organisations, providing support for this process where necessary. For the supplier, establishing structures and routines for OHS management can help to prepare for future audits, thereby reducing audit fatigue.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the supply chain learning literature by exploring the development of supplier absorptive capacity for sustainability triggered by the focal buying firm. It sheds new light on the role of boundary objects for facilitating knowledge transfer and learning between supply chain members in the context of SSD projects.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 42 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

1 – 10 of over 1000