Untangling drivers for supplier environmental and social responsibility: An investigation in Philips Lighting's Chinese supply chain

Verónica H. Villena, Miriam Wilhelm, Cheng Yong Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study unpacks the environmental and social dimensions of supplier responsibility and links each dimension to distinct drivers. Using stakeholder theory and the relational view, we distinguish between two main drivers: stakeholder pressures (i.e., from regulatory agencies, buying firms, and nongovernmental organizations) and relational mechanisms offered by multinational companies (MNCs) (i.e., lean trainings and relational capital). We used a multi-method research design to study how these drivers uniquely influence supplier responsibility in an emerging-country context. An in-depth case study with Philips Lighting and 10 of its Chinese suppliers reveals causal inferences that link stakeholder and relational drivers with each responsibility dimension (environmental vs. social). Audit and survey data from Philips Lighting's 134 Chinese suppliers, complemented with four archival databases, bolster these inferences. Overall, the results show that supplier environmental responsibility can be fostered through both stakeholder pressures and relational drivers; whereas, supplier social responsibility is much harder to address. The integrated methods offer a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of the specifics of supplier responsibility in China and also provide recommendations for MNCs that seek to improve it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-510
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Volume67
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • buyer–supplier relationship
  • China
  • multi-method research design
  • relational view
  • stakeholder theory
  • supplier environmental responsibility
  • supplier social responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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