An empirical examination of the relationship between business strategy and socially responsible supply chain management

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Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to explore the effect of business strategy on socially responsible supply chain management (SR-SCM).

Design/methodology/approach – This study draws on data from 178 UK-based companies, and 340 buyer-supplier relationships. A novel data collection approach is used, which minimizes social desirability and common methods bias, to capture socially responsible supply chain management. The data are analysed through a set of OLS regressions.

Findings – Business strategies significantly influence socially responsible supply chain management. Low-cost producers largely neglect their social responsibilities in the supply chain. In contrast, firms pursuing differentiation strategies are considerably more engaged with these issues, partly because they have better supply chain processes.

Practical implications – Practitioners should carefully consider the fit between strategic position and level of engagement with SR-SCM, since our results emphasise the relationship between SR-SCM and business strategy. Proactive engagement with SR-SCM, however, also implies sound supply chain processes, which must also be aligned with business strategy. Policy-makers should consider the low engagement with SR-SCM of low-cost producers and the implications for SR-SCM in cost sensitive and competitive global markets.

Originality/value – This is the first systematic cross-sectional study of the relationship between business strategy and socially responsible supply chain management (SR-SCM). These results suggest that there is a clear relationship between the strategic position of the firm and their SR-SCM practices. These results contribute to the on-going debate on relationships between strategy and supply chain management, and the emerging debate on the relationships between strategy and SR-SCM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-621
Number of pages38
JournalInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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