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Licentiate thesis, 2009

Making standards work

Stigzelius, Ingrid


Social and environmental standards can function as tools for companies that want to improve their conduct in social and environmental areas in the supply chain. However, relatively little attention has been given to how the adoption of social and environmental standards may influence the actual business practices in the supply chain. The overall aim of this thesis is to examine the institutional context surrounding the adoption of social and environmental standards and how these standards influence the business practices in the supply chain. The thesis consists of two papers that explore two different standards in two different supply chain contexts. The empirical material is based on case studies where interviews with key persons provide the main source of evidence. The case studies are backed up by previous studies in the field. In this thesis, the two papers are framed and analyzed with the aid of literature around the phenomenon of standards. Paper I explores factory managers' perceptions of the labour standard SA8000 in the Indian clothing supply chain. Buyer requirements and hopes for competitive advantage provide incentives for the factory managers to implement SA8000. Obstacles associated with SA8000 are costs for certification, increased labour costs and infrastructure investments. Although buyers require the standard, they do not offer any support so that the standard represents a safe investment. Nevertheless, the standard may lead to business opportunities in terms of better reputation, which may lead to increased orders and lower labour turnover. Paper II explores professional purchasers' perceptions of the organic food standard KRAV in the Swedish catering supply chain. The study identifies procurement conditions for beef and the associated obstacles and opportunities with purchasing organic beef. Obstacles with organic beef are high costs, low volumes, inefficient distribution and low consumer demand. In the public sector, political goals and altered procurement practices provide opportunities for purchasing organic beef. In the commercial sector, organic beef can provide grounds for differentiation.


lic.-avh; standards; standardizing; enterprises; supply; organic foods; labour; case studies; india; sweden

Published in

ISBN: 9789186197520
Publisher: Department of Economics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Stigzelius, Ingrid
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics

UKÄ Subject classification

Business Administration

URI (permanent link to this page)