Sustainable supply chain engagement in a retail environment

Berning, Anika ; Venter, Chanel (2015-05)

CITATION: Berning, A. & Venter, C. 2015. Sustainable Supply Chain Engagement in a Retail Environment. Sustainability, 7(5):6246-6263, doi:10.3390/su7056246.

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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 collaboration becomes critical in embedding sustainability. With this in mind, it is important to monitor retailer-supplier collaboration to determine whether it is effective. To facilitate this monitoring, the UN Global Compact Supply Chain Sustainability: A Guide for Continuous Improvement was consulted. The research question aimed to determine the progress of a prominent South African retailer regarding their sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) and collaboration with suppliers. Therefore, this study attempts to apply the Supplier Engagement Continuum, extracted from the UN Global Compact Supply Chain Sustainability: A Guide for Continuous Improvement, in order to determine how the retailer is progressing in sustainable supply chain management. 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 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 found that the retailer’s sustainable supply chain management can only be located on level one of the continuum. Supply chain sustainability in organisations lack the theoretical foundation of what sustainability really is. Therefore, the model was amended and an additional level was added to incorporate the education of sustainability.

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