A typology of small- and medium-sized supplier approaches to social responsibility

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Research on socially responsible supply chains has tended to define suppliers over-simplistically as either responsible or irresponsible. This paper illuminates the varied roles of broadly socially responsible small and medium sized enterprises by seeking to discern the differences and highlight the heterogeneity of the approaches taken. Distinguishing our approach from extant corporate social responsibility categorisations, a typology is outlined, drawing on Jungian Theory of Extraversion and the strategic capability of smaller firms. The analysis suggests four groupings of socially responsible small and medium enterprise supplier: strategic engager; strategic contemplator; active connector and active reflector. Overall, the paper seeks to inject nuance into discussions regarding supplier social responsibility practices, adding to the small business social responsibility literature, as well as unifying a number of strands of research relating to supply chain responsibility. The proposed typology offers firm foundations for further empirical and conceptual research in the area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalBusiness Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility
Issue number1
Early online date16 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

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