Implementing socially sustainable practices in challenging institutional contexts : Building theory from seven supplier cases

Huq, Fahian and Stevenson, Mark (2020) Implementing socially sustainable practices in challenging institutional contexts : Building theory from seven supplier cases. Journal of Business Ethics, 161 (2). pp. 415-442. ISSN 0167-4544

[thumbnail of AS6386666239631361529281397207_content_1]
PDF (AS6386666239631361529281397207_content_1)
AS6386666239631361529281397207_content_1.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (1MB)


The implementation of socially sustainable practices in suppliers situated in challenging institutional contexts is examined using institutional theory, both in terms of how institutional pressures affect implementation and what explains the decoupling of practices from the day-to-day reality. A multi-case study approach is employed based on seven apparel industry suppliers in Bangladesh. Cross-case analysis highlights the coercive, mimetic, and normative pressures on suppliers to implement socially sustainable practices. A key pressure identified that has not previously been highlighted in the literature is horizontal collaboration between buyers, which intensifies coercive pressure on suppliers and increases the consequences of non-compliance. The factors that contribute to decoupling are categorized into firm, supply chain, and environment related factors. Further, six propositions are developed on how specific forms of institutional pressure can tackle particular decoupling factors to support implementation. The paper responds to recent calls for greater scrutiny of why and how firms decouple ethical practices and supports the development of the literature specifically on social sustainability, which lags behind that on environmental sustainability and has been largely focused on the Western buyer perspective. The findings have implications for the diffusion of ethical practices into supply chains, especially distant suppliers in very different and challenging institutional contexts.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Business Ethics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? business, management and accounting(all)economics and econometricsbusiness and international managementlaw ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
10 Aug 2018 10:56
Last Modified:
29 Apr 2024 23:59