Integrity and Security Considerations of Transparency and Traceability : an Exploratory Case Study of Traceability Validation Systems

University essay from Högskolan i Borås/Akademin för textil, teknik och ekonomi

Abstract: Background: In recent years, unfair and unsafe working conditions have been reported, raising concerns among stakeholders and end-users. The demand for fashion brands to take further responsibility for social sustainability and transparency has increased. Providing complete transparency can be one solution to these issues, and traceability validation systems can be used to achieve complete transparency, covering the supply chain's social aspects. A research gap was found linking the concepts of transparency, traceability, the social aspects of sustainability, including integrity and security of the supply chain actors, and validation systems. Purpose: Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore traceability validation systems within the TA supply chain from a social perspective, specifically the integrity and security of SCAs. Methodology: An exploratory case study was conducted, including in-depth interviews with eleven respondents representing different supply chain actors and experts in the textile and apparel industry. Data were also collected through a survey and questions over email. Focus Company: The focus company for this study, PaperTale, is a start-up company that offers a blockchain-based traceability solution that enables textile and apparel companies to track and trace their supply chain via an application. Through the PaperTale app, the end-user can receive information about the garment by scanning the NFC tag or QR code attached to the garment. The PaperTale system is an example of what is defined as a traceability validation system in this study. Findings & Analysis: In general, the experiences of the respondent that has been involved in the PaperTale app was good. Some reluctance has been encountered while sharing information that can be connected to cultural aspects and lack of incentives. Overall, the impact on the different supply chain actors is good and includes making more profit for both brands and suppliers and incentivising the workers. However, the imbalance of profit and time distribution was brought up. To provide security and reliance to the supply chain actors while sharing information to a traceability validation system, the respondent emphasised the importance of union protection, legislation, and third-party validation. Lastly, most respondents are optimistic about using a third party to validate the transparency and traceability data added to the traceability validation system. Implications & Suggestions for Future Research: The contribution of this study is an increased understanding of the social aspects of transparency and traceability on a general level. Furthermore, it contributes to a deeper description and understanding of how traceability validation systems can affect and impact textile and apparel supply chain actors. The study also highlights opportunities and challenges with the system that provides direction in research. Traceability validation systems are a somewhat new topic. Many questions remain regarding who has the highest responsibility for entering data and how the system can be used on a large scale

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