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Sustainability management beyond organizational boundaries-sustainable supplier relationship management in the chemical industry

: Leppelt, T.; Foerstl, K.; Reuter, C.; Hartmann, E.


Journal of cleaner production 56 (2013), S.94-102
ISSN: 0959-6526
Fraunhofer IIS ()

Sustainable supplier relationship management (SSRM) has become crucial in companies' sustainability efforts. A firm's corporate image, in terms of economical, environmental and social behavior, heavily depends on its supply chain and the sustainability performance of each and every chain link, including suppliers and sub-suppliers. In a multiple case study of seven European chemical companies, we investigate how firms manage their supplier relations in interdependent situations. Our results provide evidence that sustainability leaders intensively invest in SSRM practices in order to manage sustainability even beyond their corporate boundaries. Additionally, we identified corporate strategy alignment, risk perception and the listing in sustainability indices as key influential factors, which foster and limit a focal firm's engagement in SSRM. The contribution of this paper is twofold: First, in-depth insights on how sustainability leaders within the chemical industry int roduce sustainability into their supplier relationship management processes are presented and compared to the practices of sustainability followers. Second, the neglected impact of making sustainability a priority in the focal firms' relationship with their suppliers is examined through in-depth case studies.