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Seed project: Sustainable procurement in supply chains of companies

The project examines to what extent organizations review their suppliers in relation to their societal and environmental impact and work (e.g. the use of material and waste). Moreover, it analyses whether suppliers comply with the environmental, human and labour rights, and anti-corruption principles and sustainability standards laid out by the UN and the EU.

Project information

Project manager
Natalia Berg, Brigitte Pircher
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Mobilising and managing sustainable transition – en spirande kunskapsmiljö
Management control (Department of Management, School of Business and Economics), Political science (Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences)

What is a seed project?

A seed project is a minor project funded by a knowledge environment or a research group at the university. The aim is to launch and promote excellent research. Depending on the financier, a seed project may be to idenfify new or deepen existing collaborations, preferably cross-disciplinary ones, to explore possible research issues in a feasibility study, to collect empirical material, or to write an application for external funding.

More about the project

While previous studies have shown that companies’ environmental impact and cases of violations of human and labour rights norms occur in their supply chains, research is scant on its nature and consequences. However, there is evidence that these consequences may be far-reaching. For example, if an unexpected risk incident is revealed through the news media, the involved companies have significant material implications in form of compliance cost, lower stock prices, threatened reputation, and higher financial risks. Such infamous scandals are often committed by suppliers of large companies, which breach the global or EU sustainability standards.

Yet, sustainable procurement practices also present material financial opportunities for companies and their suppliers to exploit. Since sustainable procurement represents a key driver for economic growth and the transition towards a circular economy, regulations to ensure accurate and transparent procurement practices are critical for the economy.

Moreover, decent labour law and environmental standards can be promoted by fair and sustainable procurement, which contributes to a more resilient economy and social cohesion. However, legal violations of these basic principles are persistent in the supply chain within procurement. The company inaction and low transparency in relation to the supply chain management, however, can have catastrophic effects on supply chain operations, the overall reputation and market value of the company, and the natural environment and society in large.

This project aims to (i) describe the key sequences in the procurement process, with special emphasis on environmental and social factors; (ii) identify the vulnerabilities in procurement practices; (iii) investigate the characteristics of the companies that do not comply with sustainability standards in procurement; and (iv) analyse the publicly disclosed information on company procurement that can ensure sustainable practices among company suppliers as well as company actions to address the vulnerabilities in the supply chain.