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Title: The role of social sustainability in supplier selection
Author: Cole, Rosanna
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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Focusing attention on sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is becoming a necessity for firms and their wider supply chains. Social sustainability aspects specifically have been overlooked in many initiatives while economic feasibility and environmental impact have taken priority. Incorporating social sustainability factors into supplier selection decisions and achieving effective socially responsible purchasing (SRP) have accelerated in importance as a result of the potential risk to organisations’ reputation. Confusion around social sustainability as a concept and what behaviours should be demonstrated have been a cause of its slow adoption and are gaining debate. The thesis develops an understanding of this important feature of sustainability through the framework that buyers use to establish a socially sustainable supply chain. This empirical work using organisational case studies investigates the role of supplier selection in the purchasing process. The results show that the social aspect of sustainability is embryonic in terms of development with buyers using both transactional and relational factors to achieve socially responsible purchasing. The framework developed in this thesis indicates that through the use of clear sustainability objectives, the buyer must be explicit about their expectations to the supplier, gather relevant information to make an informed decision and analyse the risk to operations and reputation that the supplier poses. Trust, transparency, willingness to engage through communication, collaboration, cooperation and commitment and development of knowledge transfer through education should all be demonstrated by the supplier for a positive selection decision. This goes beyond traditional agency perspectives of the exchange to endorse suppliers as ‘stewards’ in the relationship. The research contributes to theory by providing a framework which moves social dimensions of sustainability to a definable domain that impacts on supply chain sustainability, delivering mutually beneficial outcomes for both buyers and suppliers. The research is timely in reflecting the role purchasing has on implementing a socially sustainable supply chain.
Supervisor: Aitken, James; Hilson, Gavin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available