Measuring Social Sustainability in Global Supply Chains

Amanda Ramér

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In a highly international business environment global supply chains are becoming increasingly dispersed across borders and continents (Gereffi and Fernandez-Stark, 2016), with emerging markets as one of the fastest growing players (Abiad et al, 2015). In these highly complex supply chains the focus seem to be on competitiveness, leaving potentially negative social impacts behind (Wieland and Handfield, 2013), and children are one of the groups shown to have to bare many of the negative consequences (Unicef, n.d.). In recent years several disastrous events have highlighted the dangers of not addressing these issues (Wieland and Handfield, 2013), and there is increased recognition of the need to work with Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However, the social pillar of sustainability has been constantly neglected (Ajmal et al., 2018) with ongoing discussion on how to measure it in practice (Staniskiene and Stankeviciute, 2018). This study therefore deals with how to measure social sustainability in global supply chains, with a special focus on the impact on children in emerging markets. To fulfil the purpose of this thesis a qualitative multiple case study has been conducted, where the empirical material has been collected through semi-structured interviews and document collection. By analysing this material the study aims to gain a better understanding of how to measure social sustainability in global supply chains, looking at what aspects of social sustainability that are important for children and companies, to see if there is any common ground for Shared Value to be created (Porter and Kramer, 2011). The empirical evidence shows that aspects considered important by children are Child Protection, Education, Family Relations, Work and Employment, Community Infrastructure, Basic Needs, Leisure and Rest, Health Care, Awareness and Respect, Involvement and Equality. In practice companies work with measuring social sustainability through Audits, Project specific targets, and through Certified raw-material. For companies aspects of high importance are Income, Education and Human rights. Furthermore, some motivations on why to engage in measurement and communication of these issues were suggested to be to show stakeholders, build the brand, respond to consumer expectations, justify the investments, learn and understand and adhere to legal and international frameworks. The study shows that companies are currently not adhering to Porter and Kramer’s (2011) framework on Creating Shared Value (CSV), even so some common ground was found, suggesting that it should be possible in the future.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages106