Exploring CSR in the Supplier Management of SMEs in Germany : A Study about Supplier-Related CSR Activities and Barriers in CSR Adoption

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Centre of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (CeLS); Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Centre of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (CeLS)


Background CSR is a concept of growing attention as stakeholders’ pressure on companies to ensure social and environmental standards has increased. However, as companies have progressively shifted to supplier-based manufacturing their dependency on suppliers requires them to assure that CSR standards are also employed at their suppliers. Thereby, the size of a company plays an important role. While SMEs are generally CSR-oriented internally and on a societal level, they are rather disadvantaged when aim-ing to impose CSR requirements on their suppliers due to their specific characteristics. Nonetheless, making a supply chain truly sustainable de-pends on the SMEs imposing CSR practices on their suppliers.Purpose Exploring CSR in the context of SMEs’ supplier management.Method The study employs a qualitative research method to fulfil the exploratory nature of the thesis. As research strategy, case studies of ten SMEs in Germany were conducted. Therefore, empirical data was collected through retrospective, semi-structured interviews as well as data from corporate webpages, internal documents and newspaper articles. The empirical data were categorised and prepared for content analysis, which comprised of interpretations according to defined categories.Conclusion This thesis shows that general awareness of CSR among SMEs has in-creased. Though, occurrence of CSR in supplier management context is often not considered and recognised yet. Thus, it can be said that CSR has reached the SMEs’ awareness but not sufficiently in all business opera-tions. Nonetheless, the thesis determined many CSR activities in supplier management which can be assigned to supplier selection, relationships and development. However, many activities depend on the available resources a firm can offer. Thereby, this thesis confirms that lack of resources is a general drawback of SMEs. Thereof arising, SMEs face several other bar-riers when adopting CSR in their supplier management. These need to be overcome as increasing importance of supplier-related CSR is expected.

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