3 October 2016
Dr Lingxuan Liu talks looks at supplier development programmes in China.

Supplier development is one of the key features in the state-of-the-art sustainable supply chain management. In order to improve environmental and social responsibility, a global company shall not only enforce code of compliance towards their core suppliers, but also provide various resources and supports to help suppliers, making continuous improvement on industrial sustainability through collaborative approaches. But how exactly are global companies doing that? What are the patterns of brand-supplier engagement and interactions? And how effective are those supplier development programs?

I aim to find some answers this summer. I am now working with Apple Inc. and the Institute of Sustainable Communities, a global non-profit organisation, to look into their supplier development programme which started back in 2014. The programme has reached out to over 200 supplier factories in China, offering an 18-month training session towards the mid-level managers of those factories. The training session provides a variety of courses in order to improve their knowledge and expertise on environmental, occupational health, and safety issues. There is also a mandatory requirement that the trainees have to design in-factory projects based on what they’ve learnt, with the purpose of improving the sustainability performance of their factories. As a closure of the programme, I am invited to evaluate the effectiveness of the training through field studies, face-to-face interviews, and quantitative surveys.

Further progress of this research project will be provided in December 2016.