Tag Archives: supply chain management

The Responsible Management of Marketplace Stakeholders

Excerpt from: Camilleri, M. (2017). The Rationale for Responsible Supply Chain Management and Stakeholder Engagement. Journal of Global Responsibility, 8(1).

supply chain
(source: GreenBiz)

Generally, firms are becoming more proactive in their engagement with responsible supply chain management and stakeholder engagement. Very often, corporate responsible behaviours could form part of their broader strategic commitment toward stakeholders (Zhu, Sarkis and Lai, 2013; Walker, Di Sisto and McBain, 2008; Walker and Preuss, 2008), This contribution is based on the premise that corporations could make a genuine and sustaining effort to align their economic success with corporate social responsibility in their value chain.

The corporations’ differentiated strategies as well as their proactive engagement in responsible supply chain practices can lead them to achieve a competitive advantage in the long term. In this case, firms may have  sophisticated responsible procurement processes in place. Therefore, they could be in a better position to support their different suppliers. On the other hand, there could be low‐cost producers that may be neglecting socially responsible supply chain management. In a similar vein, niche operators may not necessarily adopt responsible supply chain practices. Nevertheless, such firms tend to exhibit stronger ties with their suppliers; they may be relatively proactive vis-a-vis their socially responsible behaviours.

Previous studies indicated that there are significant gaps between policy and practice
(Govindan, Kaliyan, Kannan and Haq 2014; Preuss, 2009; Yu, 2008; Egels-Zanden, 2007), For the time being; firms may (or may not) be inclined to implement responsible supply chain and manufacturing processes on a voluntary basis. However, the big businesses are increasingly becoming aware that they are susceptible to negative media exposure, stakeholder disenfranchisement, particularly if they are not responsible in their supplier relationships (or if their social and environmental policies are not fully-implemented),

Arguably, a differentiated strategy can serve as a powerful competitive tool in the global marketplace as the customers’ awareness of social and responsibility rises. Notwithstanding, many stakeholders are increasingly becoming acquainted with fair trade and sustainability issues; as empowered consumers and lobby groups could enforce firms to invest in a more responsible supply chain.

Undoubtedly, there are opportunities for the proactive firms who are keen on integrating
responsible practices into their business operations. It is in these firms’ interest to report about their responsible supply chain management, social performance and sustainable innovations to their stakeholders. The corporations’ environmental, social and governance disclosures will help them raise their profile in their value chain.

The responsible businesses can possibly achieve a competitive advantage as they build (and protect) their reputation with stakeholders. Of course, there are different contexts and social realities. The global supply chain and the international NGOs also play a critical role in the enforcement of responsible behaviours in the supply chain.

In conclusion, this paper contended that the responsible supply chain management as well as forging stakeholder relationships with suppliers and distributors enable businesses to create shared value to society and for themselves.

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The Responsible Supply Chain Management and its effect on Corporate Reputation

supply chain(image source: Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota)

 

Corporate reputation has often been defined as “a set of attributes ascribed to a firm, that is inferred from the firm’s past actions” (Weigelt & Camerer, 1988, p. 443). Fombrun and Shanley (1990) argued that reputation “signals publics about how a firm’s products, jobs, strategies and prospects compare to those of competing firms” (p. 233). The value of reputation has been subject to extensive research, which has highlighted that reputation influences the stakeholders’ perceptions (Money, Hillenbrand & Downing, 2011), the customers’ choices and their purchase intentions (Keh & Xie, 2009; Siegel & Vitaliano, 2007; Mohr & Webb, 2005) Therefore, corporate reputation is related to corporate financial performance (Camilleri, 2012; Flanagan, O’Shaughnessy, & Palmer, 2011). Much of the work on corporate social–financial performance also implicitly assumes that this relationship is positive, because an improved reputation facilitates revenue and profit growth (Orlitzky et al., 2003; Surroca, Tribó & Waddock,. 2010).

Extant work suggests that reputation is important because it establishes credibility (Greyser, 1999; Herbig et al., 1994). The notion that reputation is related to credibility has also been noted in the wider corporate social (and environmental) responsibility literature. McWilliams and Siegel (2001) argued that building a reputation of ‘responsibility’ can signal an improved reputation (Husted & Allen, 2007; Brammer & Millington, 2005; McWilliams & Siegel, 2001; Fombrun & Shanley, 1990). Hence, responsible corporate behaviour “builds trust and enhances the firm’s reputation, which in turn attracts customers, employees, suppliers and distributors, not to mention earning the public’s goodwill” (Lantos, 2001, p. 606). In a similar vein, Lewis (2003) also held that responsible behaviours can establish trust and ultimately develop a company’s reputation. Social and environmental activities not only can enhance the reputation of the firm, but also enhance the goodwill trust of stakeholders (Carlisle and Faulkner, 2005; Siltaoja, 2006).
Therefore, corporate reputation is fundamentally a signal to stakeholders (Ponzi, Fombrun & Gardberg, 2011) and is particularly important in markets where there is imperfect information (Hoejmose et al., 2014.; Weigelt & Camerer, 1988). The market signals, including engagement in social and environmental issues could help to improve corporate image (McWilliams & Siegel, 2001; Bagnoli & Watts, 2003).

Markley and Davis (2007) also noted that responsible behaviours could send positive market signals to a range of stakeholders. Today’s firms are expected to implement responsible supply chain practices. If they won’t they run the risk of damaging their reputation and image among their stakeholders. Hence, there is scope for firms to implement socially and environmentally responsible practices in their supply chains (Ansett, 2007). Responsible supply chain management encapsulates social issues (e.g. child labour, working conditions, human rights et cetera) and / or environmental matters (e.g. environmental protection, waste management, recycling, reusing natural resources et cetera) (Hoejmose et al., 2013; Carter & Rogers, 2008; Seuring & Muller, 2008). Such responsible behaviours shield the firms from negative media attention and consumer boycotts (Hoejmose et al., 2013). The companies’ stronger engagement in socially responsible supply chain management enables them to manage exposure to risk (Tate et al, 2010; Van De Ven & Jeurissen, 2005). Thus, the businesses’ stakeholder engagement and their responsible procurement of materials and products is linked to corporate reputation, which in turn allows them to target discerning customer groups (Phillips & Caldwell, 2005; Roberts, 2003).

Kleindorfer, Singhal, and Wassenhove (2005) suggested that responsible supply chain practices can lead to increased profitability, as customer satisfaction and loyalty will improve as a result of a stronger reputation. Therefore, firms risk losing customers to rival companies over time, particularly if they fail to be responsible in their supply chain. In fact, Harwood & Humby (2008) findings suggested that suppliers were adhering to specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirements in order to reduce their exposure to risk. It may appear that the real value of social and environmental management is perhaps not from its role in enhancing reputation, but more about protecting it. This reflects Burke’s (2011) argumentation as he suggested that a firm’s corporate reputation is enhanced through positive actions, the programmes they implement and the other tangible things that they do.

Therefore, the distinction between reputation protection and enhancement is subtle, but important. Corporate reputation protection is concerned with evidencing the firms’ efforts to meeting the stakeholders’ expectations, whilst reputation enhancement goes beyond a purely evidential basis to encompass embedded practice. Corporate reputation protection occurs when firms can prove to stakeholders that they took reasonable steps to prevent an incident from happening (Coombs, 2014). In fact, corporate reputations could be easily jeopardised by irresponsible supply chain practices which may “directly harm business contracts, marketing, and sub-sourcing, and damage the corporation’s brands and the trust they have established with their business customers” (Lee & Kim, 2009, p. 144). These companies’ failure to manage their supply chain in a responsible manner could result in negative repercussions for their organisational performance. Conversely, the corporations’ reputation and credentials in socially responsible supply chain management could lead them to achieve a competitive advantage (Ansett, 2007; McWilliams et al., 2006).

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, Shared Value, Stakeholder Engagement