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Moving from Corporate Social Responsibility to Supply Chain Responsibility: The Case of a Leading UK Food Retailer


  • Spence, Laura
  • Bourlakis, Michael


The paper investigates the evolution from corporate social responsibility to supply chain responsibility via the examination of a leading UK food retailer. These two concepts differ substantially and illustrate contrasting approaches in terms of social responsibility development and application. A qualitative case study methodology is used where managers from that leading retailer and its suppliers, industry experts and representatives from professional bodies are interviewed. An observation of an ethical audit with a retailer’s supplier was also conducted. Findings show an example of good practice in the area of corporate social responsibility in the supply chain and illustrate the substantive progress that can be made in achieving supply chain responsibility. At the same time, the paper provides the specific challenges in developing from a corporate social watchdog approach to one in which the power in the chain is more balanced and where a holistic approach requires to be taken to social responsibility. Considering the scarcity of work examining empirically the issue of corporate social responsibility in food supply chains, this study demonstrates an evolutionary process and its stages based on an examination of the food retailer’s supply chain and the corporate social responsibility approach it has taken with its suppliers. We also illustrate a range of key implications that need to be considered by both managers and policy makers and we provide a range of areas where further research is required.

Suggested Citation

  • Spence, Laura & Bourlakis, Michael, 2009. "Moving from Corporate Social Responsibility to Supply Chain Responsibility: The Case of a Leading UK Food Retailer," 2009 International European Forum, February 15-20, 2009, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 59204, International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iefi09:59204

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    Cited by:

    1. Mario Risso, 2012. "Exploring Partnerships for Social Innovation," Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, University of Milano-Bicocca, issue 2 Innovat, pages 26-36.
    2. Valerie Nelson & Anne Tallontire, 2014. "Battlefields of ideas: changing narratives and power dynamics in private standards in global agricultural value chains," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(3), pages 481-497, September.
    3. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9839-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. K. T. Shibin & Angappa Gunasekaran & Thanos Papadopoulos & Rameshwar Dubey & Manju Singh & Samuel Fosso Wamba, 2016. "Enablers and Barriers of Flexible Green Supply Chain Management: A Total Interpretive Structural Modeling Approach," Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management, Springer;Global Institute of Flexible Systems Management, vol. 17(2), pages 171-188, June.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:629-:d:133850 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Vivek Soundararajan & Jill A. Brown, 2016. "Voluntary Governance Mechanisms in Global Supply Chains: Beyond CSR to a Stakeholder Utility Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 134(1), pages 83-102, March.


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