Sustainable sourcing in agricultural supply chains : an analysis across scales

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This dissertation seeks to understand how and why companies are addressing sustainability in their agricultural supply chains. To do this, I examine corporate approaches to sustainable sourcing across scales, from a global view of hundreds of firms, to a single exemplary environmental supply chain program, to the interactions across industry members within a particular commodity chain. In my first chapter my co-authors and I examine the sustainable sourcing practices of a random sample of 449 companies in the food, apparel and wood products sector. This study provides the first large-scale analysis of how a broad range of companies address social and environmental issues in their supply chains. Our results highlight both the opportunities and limitations of sustainable sourcing practices in contributing to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. My second chapter builds key findings from Chapter One to provide one of the first examinations of the impact of a company-led standard on the adoption of improved environmental farm management practices in the fresh produce sector. Using a critical case approach, my co-authors and I find that the major South African food retailer Woolworths' sustainable fresh produce program is associated with an increased uptake of improved environmental farm management practices. We identify Woolworths' long-term partnership with farmers and the use of highly trained auditors to provide farm-specific recommendations as key design principles that make this program particularly effective in comparison to an existing industry standard. Finally, in my third chapter I look at how different stakeholders influence the evolution of chocolate manufacturers' sustainable sourcing practices over time. Both internal and external stakeholders play an important role in influencing the evolution of sustainable sourcing practices. I find that companies continue to build out their approaches to sustainable sourcing as new stakeholder pressures and threats arise. Together, Tannis Thorlakson's work provides insights into the role companies' sustainable sourcing practices play in addressing the pressing global sustainability challenges we face today.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2018; ©2018
Publication date 2018; 2018
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Sullivan, Tannis Thorlakson
Degree supervisor Lambin, Eric F
Degree supervisor Naylor, Rosamond
Thesis advisor Lambin, Eric F
Thesis advisor Naylor, Rosamond
Thesis advisor Clark, William
Thesis advisor Hainmueller, Jens
Degree committee member Clark, William
Degree committee member Hainmueller, Jens
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Environment and Resources.


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Tannis Thorlakson Sullivan.
Note Submitted to the Department of Environment and Resources.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2018.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2018 by Tannis Thorlakson Sullivan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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