مسئولیت محیطی و اجتماعی در زنجیره های تامین : شیوه انتخاب و مدیریت درون سازمانی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|854||2012||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 83, November 2012, Pages 154–163
The general concern for the state of the environment sets requirements on strategies developed by companies to curb environmental and social impacts of their activities. One of the most notable changes in the way companies work with sustainability issues is the shift of the focus from own operations to improving the performance of supply chains. This paper aims to analyse the practise of corporate responsibility in the supply chain through the lens of two distinct but related fields of research: Global Value Chain analysis and Supply Chain Management. Using data from two empirical studies that were designed to study the practise of Swedish buyers in addressing social and environmental issues in their respective supply chains, we demonstrate that both fields offer vital insights about how companies can and do exercise environmental and social responsibility in their respective supply chains. We suggest that one can better integrate these two perspectives on governance in the supply chain by acknowledging that responsibility in the supply chain can both be exercised through choice and through inter-organisational management. We discuss role of certification schemes in this context and provide recommendations for future research.
Current patterns of production and consumption of products have a profound impact on the environment. According to the logic of life cycle thinking a product is not only a vehicle for the satisfaction of a need or desire, but it can also be seen as a unit which generates a distinct set of environmental impacts along its life cycle. Thus the characteristics of products and the nature of the systems in which they are produced, distributed, used and disposed of, partly determine the magnitude of critical environmental problems associated with e.g. resource consumption and depletion, CO2 emissions and the use of hazardous chemicals (Lenzen et al., 2007). Conceptualising the product as a determinant of environmental impacts is empowering in the sense that is shows that all individuals can exercise a positive influence by letting purchasing decisions and/or decisions about product design, sourcing and procurement be informed by sustainability concerns. This is the great promise inherent in the life cycle logic, the idea that we can reduce the negative environmental and social impacts associated with production and consumption, regardless of where these impacts arise, by making informed and responsible decisions about products. While historically there has been a producer-centric approach in environmental policy making and in the general discourse related to responsibility for environmental impacts (Lenzen et al., 2007: 30), we now see evidence of a life cycle logic both in policy and in the public discourse related to responsibility of companies and consumers. This development is manifested in regulatory and policy documents, especially in product-oriented environmental policy (Leire et al., 2009 and Lenzen et al., 2007), and can be noticed in ethical and environmental requests of consumers who are increasingly looking for the “world behind the product” (Töpfer 2002). The trans-boundary nature of many product chains clearly reduces the ability to address the impacts associated with a country's total consumption, through traditional regulatory measures directed at producers within the boundaries of a nation state. The impacts that our consumption is generating, arise, or are determined, elsewhere. The study by Chapagain et al. (2006), on water related impacts of cotton production illustrates this dilemma. They found that only 26% of the water footprint of cotton consumption within the EU25 arose within the region, with remaining impacts located elsewhere, particularly in India and Uzbekistan (Chapagain et al., 2006). Consequently we can argue that decisions about product design and consumption of textiles made by European companies and European citizens have environmental impacts in India and Uzbekistan. It is desirable that actors along the product chain take environmental concerns into account when making decisions about products. If many actors start choosing raw materials, components or products that have significantly lower environmental impacts than the average (throughout its life cycle), or if they actively deselect products/components/raw materials with significantly higher environmental impacts, this will effect the patterns of production, and consequently the environment. However, while the logic of life cycle thinking appears to gain ground (Heiskanen, 2002), and also broaden its scope beyond the original focus on environmental impacts along the products life cycle,2 action informed by life cycle information is still not the norm. Provision of information regarding life cycle environmental impacts is not likely to be sufficient for changing the way people make decisions related to production and consumption of products. However while such information may not motivate changed decision patterns, it is absolutely necessary for enabling such a change. Here companies play a key role. We need companies to transfer signals from the market upstream, through their respective supply chains, so that it reaches the relevant actors — suppliers, and we also need companies to transfer relevant and reliable information about products to actors that operate downstream in the product chain — consumers. While the access to information will not guarantee that it is being considered, the lack of relevant and reliable information is currently thwarting many actors (whether it will be an operations manager, a product designer, a public procurement official, or an individual consumer) from bringing life cycle thinking into life cycle action.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This article has analysed practises of exercising responsibility in the supply chain through the lens of contributions from both global value chains and supply chain management literature. We suggest that one can better integrate these two perspectives on governance in the supply chain by acknowledging that responsibility in the supply chain can both be exercised through choice and through inter-organisational management. When choice is not readily available to buying companies, requirements and expectations related to responsibility in the supply chain may compel a buyer to engage in inter-organisational management, one or several tiers upstream in the supply chain. Findings from empirical studies indicate that this may entail a need to find ways to motivate and enable actors in the supply chain to address environmental and social problems of relevance. In addition there is a need for inter-organisational control in order to verify performance. Many environmental and social parameters cannot be verified by looking at the product when delivered and so control and verification often means that there is a need for onsite inspections in the supply chain. The associated costs of engaging in independent inter-organisational management of environmental and social aspects in the supply chain may be prohibitive for companies who do not see clear financial rewards associated with improved sustainability performance, or clear financial risks associated with not responding to expectations and requirements. Therefore there is a need for standardisation in cases where many buyers are exposed to the same types of pressure and expectations. Indeed standardisation may also be welcomed by the suppliers who can then reduce inefficiencies associated with adaptation and verification e.g. the well known phenomenon of audit fatigue. We recognise that social and environmental standardisation and certification schemes have their own set of associated problems and challenges, including issues related to fairness in defining standard criteria, the need for local adaptations of criteria and processes, and the challenge of establishing robust and just systems for verification of compliance. However, from the perspective of the focal company who seeks to address environmental and social impacts along the supply chain, these types of schemes clearly facilitate the process of assuming responsibility for aspects that arise upstream in the supply chain. We suggest that further research is needed on the role of practise and power in the pursuit of sustainability management along the supply chain, and in particular the role of external service providers in this context. One of the limitations in the discussion about environmental and social governance in the GVC and supply chain field is a failure to fully capture the complexities of interdependencies and relationships in supply chains, the complexity and influence of the context in which different actors within the supply chain operate, and the complexities and ambiguities of the issues to be addressed i.e. social and environmental problems and their solutions. Future studies need to find ways of integrating these types of complexities into the analysis without loosing the ability to identify patterns of generalisable value. One possible path is to ground such an analysis on the conceptualisation of supply chains as complex adaptive systems (Choi et al., 2001 and Choi and Krause, 2006). A final issue that has been insufficiently explored in research, but which is of high relevance for practitioners, is the question of measuring success of companies in their sustainable supply chain work. What constitutes a success, when can we say that the company has been successful? There seem to be two possible answers. The first one is to define success in terms of processes and structures that have been established by the focal company for dealing with environmental and social issues. The second possibility is to evaluate success in terms of the actual reductions of environmental impacts from the product life cycle and from suppliers' operations and actual improvements in environmental and social conditions at supplier sites. So far, companies are more likely to report in terms of procedures and steps they have undertaken for dealing with suppliers, rather than reporting on the actual outcomes in terms of reductions of environmental and social impacts. This can be explained by the difficulty to secure absolute outcomes of supply chain improvements at all the times anywhere in the world. This question is especially interesting, as supply chain management of environmental and social issues has an inherent Achilles point: the element of control is highly complex and it can be extremely challenging to ensure that all hundreds of suppliers, potential sub-contractors and suppliers in the 2nd and 3rd tier of the supply chain follow the focal organisation's Code of Conduct or sustainability policy. On the other hand, some companies are under pressure from stakeholders to improve the performance in their chains and if knowledge of environmental and social violations becomes public, companies that have been working with their suppliers appear in a better light, than those who have not worked with these issues at all. But whether this could be counted as success remains to be seen.