Ravindra Baliga seeks participation of readers from manufacturing and SCM in cutting edge research on principles of lean management and supply management sustainability.
Lean management and supply management sustainability
Sustainability is considered an integral element of business today, and in the same breath that of the supply chains involved. In ecology, sustainability refers to how biological systems remain diverse and productive, also defined as the endurance of systems and processes. Sustainable development is defined as the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). Sustainability is conceived as having three dimensions: economic, social and environmental which is described as the triple bottom line (TBL) or 3BL wherein decisions taken by the organisation factoring in the people, planet and profits (Elkington, 1997). There have been several instances of organisations trying to optimise only the economic dimensions of business, leading to loss of reputation, corporate image and credibility. In 2012, Apple had a huge downgrading of its image, and also reviews by independent labour agencies due to a spate of suicides at Foxconn, its contract manufacturer in China; it was found that the working conditions were brutal, and workers were routinely working 60 hour weeks. In 2015, Volkswagen was cited by the Environmental Prevention Agency (EPA) in the US for indulging in cheating emission test for diesel cars, leading to a fine of USD 2.8 billion, six executives being criminally charged and the CEO, Martin Winterkorn submitting his resignation (Attiyeh Clifford, 2017).
The notion that besides fulfilling its economic objectives, a supply chain has to take care of the environment, as well as its employees and the communities it exists in lead to the concept of sustainable supply chain management (SSCM). Seuring & Müller (2008) define sustainable supply chain management as “the management of material, information and capital flows as well as cooperation among companies along the supply chain while taking goals from all three dimensions of sustainable development, i.e., economic, environmental and social, into account, which are derived from customer and stakeholder requirements”. Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) has emanated from the recognition of the strategic importance of purchasing and supply activities both in achieving the firm’s long-term performance, and in addressing sustainability issues within business capabilities. As per Pagell & Shevchenko (2014), sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) which was deemed a fringe topic with no future in studying or researching it some years ago, is now integrated in the mainstream of supply chain management (SCM). Brammer et al., (2011) note that companies that fail to manage social and environmental issue find themselves at operational and reputational risk, which could include very damaging supply disruptions.
The importance of sustainability in the supply chain is explained by many case studies such as the use by Nestle of palm oil obtained from clearing rain forests in Indonesia, Mattel toys using toxic materials (Wolf, 2014) as well as the ethics and labour violations of Volkswagen and Apple. In the study of sustainability, two distinct trends are observed, one being the environmental approach which looks more towards the ecological and environmental impact of operations on the planet. The other approach is the social, which is more aligned towards the employee welfare and CSR activities of the organisation.
While studies on sustainability in India have been conducted by Mitra & Datta (2014), Mohanty & Prakash (2014) the focus has been on environmental practices and performance. It is of great interest to this researcher as to whether principles of lean management and supply management sustainability can and are being practiced in this trend towards manufacturing, whether these will lead to social and environmental supply chain practices, and ultimately to an integrated sustainable SCM performance; in this regards he is conducting a survey of the leading companies in India. Interested readers from manufacturing and SCM, who would like to participate in this cutting edge research can send in a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Attiyeh Clifford. (2017). Everything You Need to Know about the VW Diesel-Emissions Scandal.
Brammer, S., Hoejmose, S., & Millington, A. (2011). Managing sustainable global supply chains. A Systematic Review of the Body of Knowledge. Networking for Business Sustainability.
Elkington, J. (1997). Cannibals with forks. The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century, (April), 1–16. http://doi.org/http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tqem.3310080106
Mitra, S., & Datta, P. P. (2014). Adoption of green supply chain management practices and their impact on performance: an exploratory study of Indian manufacturing firms. International Journal of Production Research, 52(7), 2085–2107.
Mohanty, R. P., & Prakash, A. (2014). Green supply chain management practices in India?: a confirmatory empirical study. Production & Manufacturing Research:An Open Access Journal, 2(1), 438–456.
Pagell, M., & Shevchenko, A. (2014). Why research in sustainable supply chain management should have no future. Development of Truly Sustainable Supply Chains, 50(1), 44–55.
Seuring, S., & Müller, M. (2008). From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply chain management. Journal of Cleaner Production, 16(15), 1699–1710.
(Prof. Ravindra Baliga has techno commercial experience of over 23 years both at strategic and tactical levels, the areas he has worked in are Shop Floor Management, Factory Management, Overseas Projects, Logistics and Distribution, Purchase and Materials Management, etc. Presently an academic at KJ Somaiya Institute of Management and Research (SIMSR), Mumbai, his areas of interest would be SCM and Logistics, TQM, Operations and Manufacturing Strategy. He is also doing his Fellow Programme (Doctoral studies) from National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Powai.)