Expanding the Stakeholder Approach: The Impact of Non-human Stakeholders in Supply Chain Sustainability

Jesling Kirsten Iversen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose The purpose for the research wasto explore, the relationship between the stakeholder approach and sustainability. Expanding the stakeholder approach as a strategy to further supply chain sustainability, through a comparison of three “beef” supply chains, cattle beef, plant-based beef, and cultured beef.
Research design The research design was based on a multiple-case study, which allowed for a comprehensive understanding with a minimal number of cases. The study followed an inductive theory extending approach, through the examination of patterns, and propositions derived from the data analysis, rather than proposing assumptions. The main focus for the case-study format was to establish analytic generalizability, through the inclusion of qualitative and quantitative data.
Findings Widening the scope to include non-human stakeholders, can provide firms with a better understanding of the external environment in which they operate in. It was found that the inclusion of non-human stakeholders, could further the clarification of boundaries and impact measurements, that often hinder the implementation of the three dimensions of sustainability during the decision-making process. In addition, considering the impact on nonhuman stakeholders, for each stage in the supply chain, also identified hot-spots more precisely.
Implications of research Contributing to a radical perspective that has slowly gained traction in recent years, by extending stakeholder status to non-human entities as an approach to implement and protect essential ecosystems, through the development of sustainable supply chains.
Limitations and future research The limited number of cases that were included, should be noted when considering the generalizability of the research findings. Additional cases within the industry, and research extending to other industries should be conducted. The analysis examined the impact on one, non-human stakeholder: the natural environment. Additional, non-human entities affected as a result of firm activities should also be considered. Such as the sentient beings used for the production of cattle beef, other eco-systems such as oceans, and habitat’s that are being lost in the process. The limitations should fuel future research to sustain long-term solutions to the current issue as it develops.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages91
SupervisorsAndreas Wieland