Implementing CSR in Supply Chains

University essay from Växjö universitet/Institutionen för samhällsvetenskap; Växjö universitet/Institutionen för samhällsvetenskap



Title: Implementing CSR in Supply Chains

Authors: Emmy Johansson and Stina Olén; Supervisor: Glenn Sjöstrand

Date of submission: May 30, 2009


For decades there has been a debate about the environmental and social responsibilities of companies. The work conducted by corporations to meet the increasing demands from wider society to take responsibility is all summed up in the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Pressured to take responsibility also in the supply chains of their businesses, the corporations have increasingly integrated suppliers in their CSR strategies.


In this thesis the obstacles and possibilities with implementing CSR in supply chains are assessed, through a case study. The thesis is written on commission by a large Swedish industrial company that is working with implementing its CSR strategy in its supplier evaluations, and through using a theoretical framework based on institutional theory and CSR theory that implementing process is studied. Having understood that the process is affected by the norms, values et cetera that are inherent in the company, the aims of this thesis have been to understand and explain how the institutional embeddedness affects the implementation of the company’s CSR strategy in its supplier evaluations.


The thesis applies qualitative research methods with emphasis on primary sources. The main empirical data was gathered through ten interviews with employees at different levels in the company, but corporate documents with relevance for the implementation were also studied.


The results of this study indicate that the institutional embeddedness affects the implementation of the CSR strategy in supplier evaluations both positively and negatively. Firstly, it makes the reactive approach of the company, the unclear objectives and guidelines, the lack of commitment from the managers, and the lack of cooperation appear problematic for the implementation. Secondly, we conclude that the institutional embeddedness creates opportunities for an improved implementing process, as there are elements in the institutional identity that correspond with the strategy, but also that there are individual actors with much institutional resources that have potential to change the institution and create commitment towards the implementation.



Keywords: corporate social responsibility, supplier evaluations, implementing strategy, institutional theory, institutional embeddedness

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