211.1 The practice of responsible procurement and global complex product chains

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 9:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Magnus BOSTROM , Dept of Life Sciences, Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden
Anna Maria JÖNSSON , Södertörn University, Sweden
Michael GILEK , Södertörn University, Sweden
Mikael KARLSSON , Södertörn University, Sweden
The management of social, environmental and health risks associated with products from global product chains is one of the most pressing task for contemporary society; a task that involves public as well as private actors and poses great challenges in terms of capabilities, knowledge, communication, collaboration, and policy instruments. In various sectors, public and private organisations face increasing pressure from the media, NGOs, political consumers, and other stakeholders to assume responsibility and deal responsibly with various risks in their procurement strategies. Given the huge social and ecological complexities and uncertainties involved, how are buyers coping with this intricate situation?

In this paper, we focus on public and private procurement organizations in the area of textiles (and chemical risks). We ask how private and public procurement organizations struggle to develop feasible practices in their efforts to achieve responsible (sustainable) procurement. The paper focuses on the interaction between procurement organizations and their suppliers and sub-suppliers. It pays attentions to such aspects as dissemination of information, learning, development of (reflective) trust, communication (barriers/bridges), and social and environmental monitoring. We refer to literatures on environmental governance, risk communication, and commodity chains. The paper builds on, firstly, a series of semi-structured interviews of staff responsible for environment, procurement, and CSR within Swedish public and private buyers, and secondly, detailed case studies of three organizations, one private and two public, which were selected because they had serious ambitions to engage in responsible procurement (challenges identified among these organizations are thus likely to be general).