Sustainable supply chain engagement in a retail environment : the case of Woolworths food suppliers

Berning, Anika (2014-12)

Thesis (MComm)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Sustainability is a key requirement for business success and is often regarded a competitive advantage if strategically managed. Sustainability-mature organisations look to their value chains where the retailer-supplier relationship becomes critical in embedding sustainability. With this in mind, it has been established that a large South African retailer, Woolworths, has limited insight into the level of engagement in terms of sustainability with its key food suppliers, and no knowledge of the effectiveness of current tools used in enhancing their supply chain sustainability. This poses a problem, as it hinders the full implementation of Woolworth’s sustainability strategy across their value chain. In response to this, a study was undertaken to establish the level of engagement in terms of sustainability and obtain supplier feedback on the effectiveness of current tools used to enhance Woolworth’s supply chain sustainability. To facilitate this, the United Nations’ Global Compact and the Supply Chain Sustainability Guideline were utilised. Secondary research was conducted by means of a literature review covering the theoretical concepts of corporate social responsibility, sustainability, supply chain sustainability and retailer-supplier collaboration. The qualitative and exploratory nature of the study necessitated a case study research design, while the technique of purposive sampling was used to select the sample of three of Woolworths’ food suppliers. Data was collected by means of semi-structured interviews facilitated by an interview guide, and data analysis was conducted with Atlas.ti software. It was determined that the current engagement around sustainability between Woolworths and their suppliers is still at a basic and broad level, with a strong environmental focus. Additionally, monitoring and support of sustainability initiatives seems to be lacking. Managerial implications emphasise the importance of an integrated sustainability approach driven by the retailer and a strong focus on collaboration and communication with suppliers around ongoing sustainability challenges and opportunities. The United Nations Global Compact Supplier Engagement Continuum was utilised as a framework to map the current level of engagement and was amended for use in the South African context. Future research agendas suggest replica studies in other industries, and that the amended continuum should be tested and further refined for the South African context. In conclusion, specific propositions were formulated to aid future research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Volhoubaarheid is ‘n sleutel vereiste vir besigheidsukses en word dikwels gesien as ‘n mededingende voordeel indien dit strategies bestuur word. Volhoubaar-volwasse organisasies fokus op hul waardekettings waar die kleinhandelaar-verskaffer verhouding krities is vir die implementering van volhoubaarheid. Met bogenoemde in gedagte, is dit bevind dat ‘n groot Suid-Afrikaanse kleinhandelaar, Woolworths, beperkte insig het aangaande die vlak van samewerking in terme van volhoubaarheid met sleutel voedselverskaffers. Verder is daar ook geen kennis oor die effektiwiteit van huidige tegnieke wat gebruik word om volhoubaarheid in hul waardeketting te bevorder nie. Dit skep ‘n probleem aangesien dit die effektiewe implementering van Woolworths se volhoubaarheidstrategie in hul waardeketting verhinder. Dus is ‘n studie onderneem om die vlak van betrokkenheid in terme van volhoubaarheid te bepaal, sowel as om terugvoer vanaf verskaffers in te samel aangaande die effektiwiteit van huidige volhoubaarheidsinisiatiewe. Om dit te fasiliteer was daar van die United Nations Global Compact en die Supply Chain Sustainability Guideline gebruik gemaak. Sekondêre navorsing was uitgevoer deur middel van ‘n literatuur studie wat fokus op die teoretiese konsepte van korporatiewe sosiale verantwoordelikheid, volhoubaarheid, waardeketting-volhoubaarheid, en kleinhandelaar-verskaffer samewerking. Die kwalitatiewe en ondersoekende eienskappe van die studie het gelei tot ‘n gevallestudie navorsingsontwerp, terwyl doelgerigte steekproeftrekking gebruik was om die steekproef van drie van Woolworths se voedselverskaffers te identifiseer. Data insameling het deur middel van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude plaasgevind en was gefasiliteer deur ‘n onderhoudgids. Die data was verwerk en geanaliseer met behulp van Atlas.ti sagteware. Dit is bevestig dat die huidige samewerking tussen Woolworths en hul verskaffers, aangaande volhoubaarheid, steeds op ‘n basiese en breë vlak is met ‘n sterk omgewingsfokus. Addisioneel wil dit voorkom dat volgehoue monitering en ondersteuning van volhoubaarheidspogings tekort skiet. Bestuursimplikasies beklemtoon die belangrikheid van ‘n geïntegreerde volhoubaarheidsbenadering wat gedryf moet word deur die kleinhandelaar. Terselfde tyd word ‘n sterk fokus op samewerking en kommunikasie met verskaffers aangaande deurlopende volhoubaarheidsgeleenthede en –uitdagings benodig. Die United Nations Global Compact Supplier Engagement Continuum was gebruik as raamwerk om die huidige vlak van samewerking te bepaal en was aangepas vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Toekomstige navorsingsagendas stel voor dat replika studies in ander industrieë gedoen word, en dat die aangepaste kontinuum getoets en verder verfyn word vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Ten slotte was spesifieke proposisies geformuleer vir toekomstige navorsing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95997
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