Research Network
Sustainable Global Supply Chains

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New media

video
Dr. Tilman Altenburg speaks about the launching of the "Sustainable Global Supply Chains Report 2022"
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video
Dr. Gideon Ndubuisi speaks about the launching of the "Sustainable Global Supply Chains Report 2022"
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podcast
Renewables pull: climate neutrality and supply chains
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New blogs

blog
How to find synergies between effectiveness and equity when designing supply chain sustainability policies
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blog
Who Gains and who pays the costs of environmental sustainability in global value chains?
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blog
Rethinking social upgrading in global value chains around worker power
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New publications

publication
Sustainability and global value chains in Africa: Introduction to the Special Issue

The challenges and opportunities facing African organizations reflect a long history of tensions, tragedies, triumphs, and accomplishments in relationships across continental boundaries. For example, Africa has long been a source of critical minerals and other raw materials that are integral to a wide range of global industries, but scholars of management have not integrated an understanding of Africa's role in global commerce fully in research on international exchange. Perhaps most importantly, scholarship in the field of management has not addressed the extensive opportunities for the development of innovative ideas, capabilities, capacities, inventions, and breakthroughs that would be made possible by international investments in human development and human capital on the continent. Resolving African problems and pursuing African opportunity requires renewed commitment by management scholars to this agenda. In this introductory article, we focus particularly on the structure of relationships across continental boundaries through global value chains (GVCs) and the role political and corporate sustainability conversations and initiatives play. We also seek to explore their implications especially for African organizations that simultaneously pursue economic growth and constructive social and environmental impact. We conclude with a framework for further study by management scholars on these important issues.

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publication
Sustainable Global Supply Chains Report 2022

Global supply chains affect the economy, the environment and social welfare in many ways. Worldwide, economies are experiencing global supply shortages today, affecting key industries such as automotive and consumer electronics as well as vaccine and medical supplies industries. These preoccupy policymakers, who are debating independent national production capacities and restrictions on international trade, but also large companies, which consider reshoring production and abandoning just-in-time procurement. At the same time, the greening of the global economy requires a restructuring of global production to massively decrease its environmental footprint. This creates new supply chain challenges – how to move towards circular economies and how to reorient energy-intensive industries towards renewables and green hydrogen, for example. And let‘s not forget: Consumers are increasingly demanding higher social and environmental standards. Transparency requirements and binding due diligence obligations will in particular affect countries that export raw materials and labour-intensive goods produced under problematic environmental and social conditions. All of this calls for policies that shape global supply chains in accordance with globally agreed social and environmental objectives. Policies along these lines will have to balance the legitimate interests of different countries and they may easily fail to achieve their objectives unless they are firmly grounded in a thorough understanding of the respective structures in supply chains, including the power relations between the actors. Further, the economic, social and environmental effects of alternative policy options need to be well understood. Science can make an important contribution here, especially if it maintains a constant dialogue with politics and society. This is why the international “Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains” was initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It currently comprises about 100 internationally leading scientists from all over the world and is jointly coordinated by our four institutes. Its tasks are: To conduct and stimulate research that contributes to making supply chains more sustainable; and to collect and synthesize the best international research on this topic and make it accessible to policy makers and other societal actors. In addition to its own research, the network organises academic conferences and discussions with policymakers, organises a blog and produces podcasts. With this report – the first in a new annual series – we present new research highlights, provide a forum to debate controversial supply chain topics and identify policy-relevant research gaps for the network‘s future work. The report is, at the same time, an invitation to participate in the discussions on how investment, production and trade will be reorganized in a global economy that has to respond to geopolitical challenges.

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publication
Resilience in Sustainable Global Supply Chains: Evidence and Policy Recommendations

The COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and export restrictions highlighted the vulnerability of global trade and global value chains (GVCs). What is more, many commentators argue that the likelihood of exogenous shocks that threaten international trade and GVCs, such as natural disasters, pandemics, or political conflicts will increase in the future. In light of the new global context and due to the experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is increasingly acknowledged in the scientific community and among policy-makers that the resilience of critical and vulnerable GVCs needs to be strengthened in order to guarantee security of supply. However, a major shortcoming of the current debate on how to improve GVC resilience is that it is not linked to the issue of environmental sustainability. This report aims at addressing this link between GVC resilience and sustainability, both at the conceptual and the policy level. To this end, the report (a) provides a systematic over-view of the literature, highlighting the trade-offs and compatibilities between GVC resilience, sustainability and efficiency; (b) assesses selected policy initiatives on GVC resilience and sustainability, including the US Executive Order 14017 on America’s Supply Chains; (c) presents a case study on the medical products sector in order to provide a better understanding of the strategic aspects of resilience and sustainability in supply chain management in the context of the recently witnessed GVC disruptions; and (d) develops policy recommendations. This report argues that since the emergence of GVCs, firms have primarily focused on GVC efficiency and largely disregarded GVC resilience and sustainability. In general, GVC efficiency, resilience and sustainability have important trade-offs as well as compatibilities that policy-makers need to take into consideration. In many GVCs, increasing GVC resilience and sustainability requires policy interventions since the desired societal level of GVC efficiency, sustainability, and resilience differs from firms’ perspectives, particularly because increasing GVC resilience and sustainability can be very costly and challenging for firms.

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