Transparency for Multi-Tier Sustainable Supply Chain Management: A Case Study of a Multi-tier Transparency Approach for SSCM in the Automotive Industry

Iain J. Fraser, Martin Müller, Julia Schwarzkopf
2020
DOI number
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/su12051814
#Sustainability standards
#Corporate responsibility and lead firms

Sustainability in supply chain management (SSCM) has become established in both academia and increasingly in practice. As stakeholders continue to require focal companies (FCs) to take more responsibility for their entire supply chains (SCs), this has led to the development of multi-tier SSCM (MT-SSCM). Much extant research has focused on simple supply chains from certain industries. Recently, a comprehensive traceability for sustainability (TfS) framework has been proposed, which outlines how companies could achieve MT-SSCM through traceability. Our research builds on this and responds to calls for cases from the automotive industry by abductively analysing a multi-tier supply chain (MT-SC) transparency case study. This research analyses a raw material SC that is particularly renowned for sustainability problems—the cobalt supply chain for electric vehicles—and finds that the extant literature has oversimplified the operationalisation of transparency in MT-SSCM. We compare the supply chain maps of the MT-SC before and after an auditing and mapping project to demonstrate the transparency achieved. Our findings identify challenges to the operationalisation of SC transparency and we outline how FCs might set to increase MT-SC transparency for sustainability.

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