In The Perspective of Integrated Sustainability Reporting
The literature on sustainability in supply chains is growing rapidly, leading to the manifestation of conceptualizations like Sustainable Supply Chain Management. More recently the concept of Sustainable Value Chain Management has emerged, extending the view to included suppliers in multiple tiers and corporate engagement with other primary and secondary stakeholders. Conducting research on Supply Chain Management is challenging and adding the ambiguously defined concept of sustainability and a value chain perspective increases the complexity almost exponentially. As a result, researchers tend to focus their studies to very specific industries, constructs and models etc., thereby limiting the contributions to the further advancement of these overall concepts and the implications for practice. Conversely, an increasing number of corporations seem to extend their sustainability management practice to include variations of stakeholder engagement and adopt a value chain narrative in their sustainability reporting. Multi-stakeholder reporting standards like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the UN Global Compact (UNGC) are adopted by corporations across industries, but only target sustainability issues in supply- and value chains to a limited extent. Though, this article proposes that the ongoing work towards new standards for integrated sustainability reporting represents a unique opportunity for increasing the presence of supply- and value chain perspectives in reporting in a way that facilitates a more optimal use of sustainability reports as a primary data source in research. Hence, this article proposes a conceptual framework for research on sustainability performance in corporate value chains, which potentially increases the future contributions to both the literature let alone practice. Different streams of literature on accounting, reporting and not least and recent strategy address the concept of sustainability performance, but the studies tend to be framed in the theoretical and methodological framework specific to a single stream of literature. Also, the studies tend to focus on a single level of analysis, which e.g. limits the amount of studies looking at both sustainability performance at the level of the multinational corporation and at the level of it's suppliers. The validity and availability of data is also an issue while corporations tend to report on sustainability in very different, less comparable ways and many suppliers does not even report non sustainability. The conceptual framework proposed in this article address these issues by a) a fusion of literature on reporting, performance and strategy, and b) introducing a set of methodologies enabling data captured on individual level of analysis to infer performance on organizational level, taking into account variables as firm size, industry type, geographical location etc. The uniqueness of the proposed framework revolves around the combination of GRI-related and UNGC-related data in a perspective of collaborative governance, the introduction of Absorptive Capacity as a core construct with multi-level and multi-domain application and validating the qualitative data with empirical applications of simulator methodologies.
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1st International EurOMA Sustainable Operations and Supply Chains Forum, 2014