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24.02.2015 | ADVANCING SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC KNOWLEDGE IN LIFE CYCLE MANAGEMENT | Ausgabe 7/2018

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 7/2018

Sustainability governance service providers: the role of third-party product certification in facilitating corporate life cycle management

Zeitschrift:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment > Ausgabe 7/2018
Autoren:
Olga Chkanikova, Beatrice Kogg
Wichtige Hinweise
Responsible editor: Kirsten Schmidt

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to analyze the role that third-party product sustainability certifications play in supply chain sustainability governance and hence the impact that they may have on facilitating corporate life cycle management (LCM). Particular emphasis is given to exploring the extent to which such schemes allow firms to outsource the work of communication, motivation, enablement, and control of sustainability-related information and performance upstream in the supply chain.

Methods

The research design is based on a comparative case study methodology. The corporate practices of sourcing the sustainability certified products in the food retailing and textile sectors are compared, to explain when third-party product sustainability certification reduces the corporate need to engage in collaborative relationships with suppliers, thereby reducing efforts associated with implementation of corporate life cycle management.

Results and discussion

In our study, we found evidence that affirms the role of third-party product sustainability certification in reducing corporate necessity to actively engage with coordination of sustainability issues upstream in the supply chain. However, we also identified a range of factors—the intention of the buying company, the supply chain context, and the design of the certification scheme—that influence the extent, to which third-party product sustainability certification replaces the corporate need for additional work to facilitate supplier compliance. Some of these factors, e.g., the design of the certification scheme, are new and have been underexplored in the supply chain management and value chain governance literature yet.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that corporate LCM practitioners should consider third-party sustainability certification as an instrument for the transfer of significant life cycle information along the supply chain and as a tool to facilitate corporate life cycle management. The extent to which third-party product sustainability certification would be able to facilitate corporate life cycle management depends not only on whether certification requirements are based on the LCA studies but also on the market scope of the certification schemes, the scope of the certification requirements, and the architecture of the certification management services. If these parameters are aligned with corporate ambitions and allow buyers to fully outsource the work associated with communication, motivation, enablement, and control of sustainability-related information and supplier performance, the life cycle management can be exercised by companies by simply choosing to procure sustainability certified products.

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Literatur
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