Networking towards environmental sustainability in green supply chains and networks: findings in sustainability reporting
Paper in proceedings, 2019
Responsibility for sustainability actions stretches beyond the focal firm’s internal organization to include supply chains and the wider network. In relation to this, sustainability reporting is gaining an increasing importance and has become mandatory for firm’s exceeding 250 employees or a turnover over 36 million Euros. The majority of research in the field of sustainability and the greening of supply chains cover dyadic relationships between two business partners. The paper contributes to current research by applying an industrial network perspective of interaction covering the entire supply chain and the wider network in which the firms operate. The aim of the paper is to investigate firms’ efforts with regard to supplier interaction in order to greening their supply chains and improve their environmental sustainability. A framework in relation to networking that covers: behavior in existing relationships; position as a combination of relationships; and intentional behavior, is used to scrutinize this issue. Data collection rests on the sampling of firms based on a Swedish sustainability report award, where seven rewarded firms’ sustainability reports are investigated. This investigation identifies six areas that covers networking and interaction: relationships/partnerships; supplier development, supplier training, collaborative sustainable efforts; supplier sustainability index; transport and purchase of transport services; purchasing, audits, assessments; and compliance of sub-suppliers. Our findings show that networking via interaction is important in efforts of greening, aiming at influencing not only contracted suppliers but also the wider network through interaction directed towards the industry. In this interaction, extensive communication between actors are crucial to enable implementation of new initiatives. In addition, the support of the buying firm (correlating to the firms of who’s’ reports we have studied) appears to be crucial to enable the transition towards environmental sustainability in supply chains and the wider networks. With regard to ‘who reports’, the study reveals that the focal firm’s position in the supply chain, ranging from raw material suppliers to the final consumers, affect the content of what is reported as environmentally sustainable efforts.