Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine the state-of-the-art in socially responsible sourcing (SRS) research, leading to an agenda for further work; and to evaluate the use of theory in this context. SRS is defined as the upstream social issues within the sustainability literature, where social issues include human rights, community development and ethical issues but exclude environmental concerns. Design/methodology/approach – A systematic literature review of 157 papers that include SRS published in ABS listed journals. The papers have been analysed according to their research content, with a particular focus on the use of pre-existing theories. Findings – Key findings for researchers and managers alike include an analytical discussion of strategies developed to date to embed SRS in an organisation; and key research gaps include a particular need to consider the supplier perspective in developing countries. In terms of the use of theory, a typology is proposed, which (in ascending order of effectiveness) is as follows: theory dressing, theory matching, theory suggesting/explaining and theory expansion. Research limitations/implications – The review is limited to papers published in the ABS list; and the analysis of the use of theory is limited to the SRS literature. The findings suggest that insightful papers can be written without any use of theory but that as a field develops, a greater depth of application of theory is needed to aid understanding. Originality/value – This is the only review that focuses exclusively on social issues SRS, excluding environmental issues, thus allowing for a greater depth of discussion on social issues; and is unique in its detailed critical analysis of the use of theory.
International Journal of Operations & Production Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 5, 2015