Julia Schwarzkopf is a Professor for Sustainability Management at the HTW Berlin Business School. After various positions in science and business, she received her doctorate from the ETH Zurich on corporate climate strategies. Subsequently, the sociologist and environmental scientist worked in the field of sustainable supply chain management for a DAX-30 company before accepting the position at the HTW Berlin in April 2017. She is interested in opportunities for sustainable action by selected economic actors, especially in and along supply chains.
Success factors of voluntary sustainable supply chain management sector initiatives
Sustainability can create greater efficiency and cost savings in the supply chain. Supply chains, which are more complex and global than ever before, are full of both risks and opportunities. The risks range from inconsistent or poor quality to supply disruptions to health and safety concerns to corruption. Businesses face pressure to adopt sustainable supply chain practices from various stakeholders and motivations typically come from one or more of four sources: customers, compliance, costs, competitive advantage. Sustainable Global Supply Chains is the guide to understanding all aspects and approaches of sustainable supply chains using in-depth research from leading academics from sixteen different universities.
Transparency for Multi-Tier Sustainable Supply Chain Management: A Case Study of a Multi-tier Transparency Approach for SSCM in the Automotive Industry
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.
Exploring Supplier Sustainability Audit Standards: Potential for and Barriers to Standardization
Global focal companies are increasingly required and expected to monitor the sustainability risks and activities in their supply chains, which has resulted in increasing supplier sustainability audit activity and growth in the number of sustainability initiatives/associations. While common, shared audit standards were originally conceived to reduce audit fatigue; with overlapping and converging supply chains there could be a need for cross-recognition or standardisation of supplier audit standards. This research aims to provide empirically grounded insight into sustainability audit activity, audit processes and standards for suppliers and the extent to which they overlap. Audit standards employed by eight multi-brand, voluntary sustainability initiatives/associations, focusing on supply chain sustainability (SMETA, PSCI, ICTI, FWF, ASI, JAC, amforiBSCI and RBA) were inductively analysed. This research compares the audit processes and standards, detecting common audit categories, analysing points of overlap and difference. We find empirical evidence of significant growth in supplier sustainability audit activity. We also find overlap among the standards in terms of audit process and steps, as well as at the level of audit focus categories. Deeper analysis reveals large differences at the granular level in terms of questions asked to assess specific topics. We conclude that there is potential for standardisation and cross-recognition but that significant barriers to agreement at the level of audit questions and how topics are evaluated remain. This research provides a first empirical overview of this important tool and its application in various industries for sustainable supply chain management.