Develop a Sustainable and Resilient Supply Chain by Anchoring Partnerships and CSR Strategy Based on UNs 17 SDGs

Nanna Paludan Feld

Student thesis: Diploma thesis


In production management, theories of micro- and macroeconomics conclude that it is not possible to have an agile and adaptive supply chain, which supports social responsibility, sustainability while securing a growing profit for the companies involved. Never the less – this is the purpose with UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs)1 . During my research I have been in contact with companies which have succeeded in this, which have chosen new approaches to become world class suppliers. My focus has been to investigate new knowledge on, how we gain the highest outcome of the invested resources in the CSR strategies, focusing on the triple bottom line and the complete supply chain. The SDGs vital goal is to sustain our common globe to our next generations. Today it is not sufficient for companies, only to be cost efficient and get profit. Customers demand sustainable workflows and behavior throughout the supply chain. The most common tool used to check if the CSR strategy is used in practice is quality control systems and international standards comprising audits. Worldwide, boards and management invest large amounts of money in developing CSR strategies, which aim to increase the triple bottom line (TBL)2 and support the SDGs. TBL ensures distinction of economic earnings, environmental sustainability and social justice. Everybody have interest in CSR strategies being realized in results that create more value on the three bottom lines as this leads to a triple win situation for both our climate and communities. Based on the latest researches in ethical audits and supply chain in corporations worldwide, from Sheffield political economy research institute3 , January 2016, it is documented that companies and our communities and climate, do not achieve the expected outcome of the investment in CSR and audits. A paradox arises as companies are challenged when strategies are to be converted to actions while Sheffield researches prove that audits do not provide expected value. It is called the audit regime. My thesis focuses on the research question; “How come the CSR strategy are not executed in real life, when the goal of the companies are a sustainable earth and communities and how can we reach UNs Sustainable development goals for the triple bottom line?” A more general question is “How do we get the highest outcome of the capacities and capabilities of companies while also fulfilling our strategy for making this world a better place and still earn money for the shareholders?” My answer is; “Change focus and look for the possibilities instead of obstacles. Never allow rules to be misused as an obstacle to enlarge our potential. If we really want to improve the world with our products, then it will be possible. We just have to identify the obstacles and deal with them, one by one. During this research I have interviewed key persons from five companies, both small and large international companies and my research is based on both secondary data from other studies and 1Hildebrandt (2016) Bæredygtig global udvikling 2 Tripple bottom line…. 3 LeBaron, G., and J. Lister. (2016) "Ethical audits and the supply chains of global corporations." S 4 primary data from interviews and a larger survey for both SME’s and large companies, located primary in Denmark. The success story from the sustainable company Bikezac shows that it is possible to become a sustainable and resilient supplier and sametime earning money. Bikezac gain triple win at the bottom line and customers are willing to support their product based on making the world a bit greener, raising life quality by biking and saving lives by using their product Bikezac for shopping. Based on survey results I can confirm that anchoring of the CSR strategy from the top mangement are the most influent variable for getting success and raise the profit. Furthermore every fifth company confirm they already get positive and measureable economic outcome, from a partnership view. Every sixth company have a competitive advantage due to focusing on executing their CSR strategy. More and more companies use standards like Global compact instead of ISO. By using the new pragmatic standards the risk in ending up in the “audit regime” is minimized. Already every fifth company are aware of the SDGs and are right now supporting the goals in their work to obtain a higher sustainability. Every third top management or boards are considering the benefits of implementing the SDGs in their strategy, since they probably would gain a competitive advantage in the global market. Both interviews and surveys reflect that when companies work intensely with partnerships through the full supply chain, they will get a more powerful effect of the resources spend. Each time we start up new business projects we should therefore be aware of the importance of spending time up front, defining the scope, allocation of roles and purpose of partnership. Innovate solutions that create value for the end customer are raised from highly professional boards and management, where the culture is value based, focused at continuous improvement and at same time have a strong culture for fast and positive on-boarding. The winners are the companies, which have a high awareness of the customers need and the ability to face new challenges and to change very fast. Anchoring of the company’s mission top down is extremely important to reach all other goals, including the CSR strategy. Lack of tools to identify obstacles and to measure the qualitative winnings is a showstopper for several companies. Resilient employees with clear positive goals for improving our common globe are a needed factor to get success. A positive triple bottom line can be achieved by anchoring partnerships more powerfully and to place the supply chain in top of the organization in the future setup. Supply chain is the full package from the cradle to the grave for products, but also for the company life cycle. Therefore my findings and keys to success are among other, that humans need to interact more and the companies should fully open their supply chains, which mean share more knowledge both with customers and sub suppliers. Sharing of knowledge ensure that the end product fulfill the concept of customer equity4 while being sustainable.

EducationsGraduate Diploma in Supply Chain Management, (Diploma Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages80
SupervisorsAseem Kinra