Buyer-Supplier Contracting for Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Sustainable Supply Chain Management is an important topic for both researchers and business managers. It involves environmental, social and economic sustainability, all of which are important, aspirational goals, but can be difficult to define in practice. For example, though a firm may want its suppliers to be environmentally sustainable, what does this mean in terms of water/ electricity use, transportation use, the location of its suppliers, asset-specific investments for sustainability etc.? Prior research suggests that, in various contexts, the process of contracting can help to address this lack of precision by defining, refining or adapting buyer requirements. However, in the context of sustainability, it can sometimes lead to difficulties in the design and implementation of appropriate contracts between a buyer and supplier. As a consequence, there can be a mismatch between the customer expectations and the service delivered. Recent research at Lancaster University has highlighted this issue in the context of buyers’ expectations for Sustainable Supply Chain Management in the food industry. Further research is needed to determine how appropriate contracts can be implemented when there is uncertainty caused by sustainability-related innovative practices within the supply chain.
Ph.D. research opportunities are available to study how formal inter-organisational contracts and the process of contracting contribute to effective governance of buyer-supplier relationships in the context of innovative practices, such as Sustainable Supply Chain Management practices. In particular, research is needed to understand the impact of relational contracts compared to traditional contracts and the process of contract development.
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