Sustainability: Do Supply Management and Global Sourcing Matter? (Guest Post by Jury Gualandris, UCD)
Is it possible to achieve high environmental and social performance in global supply chains? I am happy to share the following guest post by Dr. Jury Gualandris, shedding some light on this problem. Thank you for contributing to my blog.
Increasing demand from a variety of stakeholders has pushed firms to improve environmental and social sustainability in their supply chains. Over the last decades, however, supply chains have been undergoing a process of increasing globalization, which has created the need for differentiated sustainability approaches for firms sourcing globally rather than regionally. Based on our recent publication in Supply Chain Management: An International Journal (doi:10.1108/SCM-11-2013-0430), we argue that firms leveraging higher levels of global sourcing can manage to reach equivalent environmental and social performance relative to who is sourcing locally. However, such firms must combine traditional supply management with practices having a more specific focus on the society and the environment. On the one hand, traditional supply management based on supply base reduction and coordination will compensate global sourcing’s drawbacks, such as longer distances and socio-economic, cultural differences. On the other, sustainability-oriented monitoring and collaboration will allow to leverage resources and knowledge that are potentially valuable and are not available locally, thus fostering final sustainability performance.
Jury is a Lecturer at UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School in Dublin, Ireland. His studies focus on the management of sustainability, risk and innovation under different supply chain structures. His research has received awards from IPSERA and POMS and has appeared in leading journals of our field.
Gualandris, J., Golini, R., & Kalchschmidt, M. (2014). Do Supply Management and Global Sourcing Matter for Firm Sustainability Performance? Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 19 (3), 258-274 DOI: 10.1108/SCM-11-2013-0430
Strategies and practices to achieve supply chain resilience have been at the heart of supply chain management practice and research for almost a decade. However, such efforts have often focused on ways to make supply chains more reactive to turbulence and disruptions. In our recent article, Antecedents and Dimensions of Supply Chain Robustness, my co-authors, Christian F. Durach and José A.D. Machuca, and me build a theoretical framework that depicts antecedents and dimensions of a second, rather proactive construct: supply chain robustness. We define supply chain robustness as the ability of a supply chain to resist or avoid change. Some of my previous research has shown that this construct is even more positively related with business performance than supply chain agility. Through reviewing 94 articles, and a Q-sorting exercise, we identify four (i.e. leadership commitment, human capital, relationship magnitude, and risk management orientation) important intra-organizational robustness antecedents and four (i.e. node centrality, bargaining power, visibility, and network complexity) inter-organizational robustness antecedents.
Durach, C., Wieland, A., & Machuca, J. (2015). Antecedents and Dimensions of Supply Chain Robustness: A Systematic Literature Review. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 45 (1/2), 118-137 DOI: 10.1108/IJPDLM-05-2013-0133
The German Academic Association for Business Research (VHB) has published JOURQUAL 3, a journal ranking based on the ratings of more than 1,100 VHB members. A-graded SCM journals are: Production and Operations Management and Journal of Operations Management. Several SCM journals received the grade B, including: International Journal of Production Economics, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Journal of Supply Chain Management, Journal of Business Logistics, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management and Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. Finally, International Journal of Logistics: Research and Applications, International Journal of Logistics Management and Logistics Research received the grade C. No SCM journal received the best (A+) or the worst grade (D). Qualitative rankings such as this list or the ABS ranking can be a good supplement to quantitative rankings based on impact factors. Always keep in mind that journal rankings have a downside and should not be the dominating criteria for judging the value of our research.
The UK-based Association of Business Schools (ABS) has published its Academic Journal Guide. It is the successor of the often criticized Academic Journal Quality Guide. And this is how the new Guide ranks supply chain management journals: The only grade 4* (“excellent”) journal is: Journal of Operations Management. Other “top journals” (grade 4) are: International Journal of Operations & Production Management and Production and Operations Management. Examples of “highly regarded” journals (grade 3) in the list are: Journal of Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. Some other “well regarded” journals (grade 2) are: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Journal of Business Logistics and Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management. Given the low grades of some journals with high impact factors and considering their reputation in our field, I am not fully convinced of the quality of this new ABS list. Another ranking, VHB-JOURQUAL, seems to reflect the theoretical and methodological breadth of our discipline much better. Qualitative rankings can be a good supplement to quantitative rankings based on impact factors. Always keep in mind that journal rankings have a downside and should not be the dominating criteria for judging the value of our research. I fear that the new ABS ranking will serve as exactly such a criterion in many business schools now.
Last week, a well-made special report by Raconteur, titled Supply Chain 2015 (pdf), was distributed in The Times of London. I very much enjoyed reading it. The authors make clear that “contracting has to be far more agile than a traditional long-term sourcing process and relationship” and they discover that “many companies are unprepared for increased complexity”. The report also discusses five megatrends, each having implications for supply chain management: (1) shift in global economic power; (2) demographic and social change; (3) technological breakthroughs; (4) climate change and resource scarcity; and (5) rapid urbanization. Other topics covered by the report are, among others, strategic procurement, top technologies, demand prediction, sustainable supply chains and cross-border delivery. The report also contains an analysis of three selected sectors (retail, construction and pharmaceutical) and additional case studies, including a case study on the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh. More information can be found on the homepage of Raconteur’s Supply Chain 2015 report.
In their very insightful essay, Toward the Theory of the Supply Chain, Carter, Rogers & Choi (2015) argue that “before we continue to build theories of supply chain management, we must first develop a theory of the supply chain – the phenomenon that we purport to manage”. I could not agree more with their argument. Indeed, without focusing on the supply chain before focusing on how to manage it, SCM research would not be more than fishing in murky waters. The authors present six foundational premises to characterize a supply chain. These provide “a holistic conceptualization of the supply chain – what it is and how it behaves”. Moreover, the authors present several future avenues for further developing their conceptualization of the supply chain. I can only recommend reading this important new paper and I am convinced that it will have a major influence on how future SCM research is being conducted.
Carter, C.R., Rogers, D.S., & Choi, T.Y. (2015). Toward the Theory of the Supply Chain. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 51 (2), 89–97 DOI: 10.1111/jscm.12073