Sustainability Initiatives in Emerging Economies: A Socio-Cultural Perspective
This paper explains how and why sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is different in an emerging economy by investigating sustainability initiatives in the United Arab Emirates. This exploratory qualitative study uses activity theory (AT) as a framework of analyses to investigate the sustainable supply chain practices in the context of emerging economies. AT's hierarchical breakdown structure allows complex and dynamic activities to be broken down across multiple levels providing a
... providing a simplified explanation of the triple bottom line initiatives across 16 participant organizations. Our findings corroborate with some of the sustainability initiatives in developed countries, such as the contribution of suppliers and the importance of employee engagement to the sustainable efforts of the focal firm; however, there were significant differences too. Customer and investor pressure was the top driver toward sustainability in developed economies, but our research identifies government pressure as the principal motive for sustainability. Similarly, we observe a narrow perspective on sustainability from the studied organizations as sustainability measures were seen as "costly". We attribute this to a lack of accounting for the costs associated with being "unsustainable". We contribute to the literature by developing four propositions that identify the key contributors to successful sustainability outcomes in the context of emerging economies: (a) the dynamic influence of governments on the adoption and implementation of SSCM; (b) accounting for the costs associated with the "unsustainable" measures, which enables a strategic perspective on sustainability; (c) the inclusion of sustainability as an "order qualifier" for the suppliers; and (d) the employees' transition from compliance to taking ownership of sustainability initiatives.