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Sustainability in Supply Chain Management: A Critical Case Study of a Specific Organization

Background Information on Sustainable Supply Chain Management

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2021) suggests that “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”. It also suggests that “global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades”.

Supply chain management practices play a significant role in addressing issues of carbon reduction, and other sustainability issues in order to achieve the ambitious targets set out in the Paris Agreement (UN Global Compact & BSR, 2015).  

But there is also evidence to suggest that companies’ contributions to the achievement of planetary sustainability goals is not as great as might be hoped (Thorlakson et al., 2018). 

For this assessment, you should write a critical case study of a specific organization of your choice that explores how effectively that organization is addressing the social and environmental impacts of its supply chain practices.

This means you should choose, research/analyze and critically discuss one organization with which you are familiar.  You will conduct independent research of the chosen case organization to understand and evaluate what they are doing to address sustainability issues in their supply chain.  You will do this through critically reflecting on those practices in terms of wider research literature. If appropriate, you may also make comparisons with other comparable organizations in order to deepen your analysis of your chosen organization. 

You are advised to choose a well-known organization for which there is publicly available information on their sustainable supply chain management practices.  

Sustainability is a broad and multi-faceted topic so it is advisable to identify and focus on specific relevant sustainability issues. These will vary according to the organization you choose and the nature of the industry/environment within which the organization and its supply chain is operating. 

You are not required to generate primary data.  You may work with information available in the public domain (e.g. reports via company websites) to explore the case organization. (But, of course, this should be combined with academic research literature in order to construct a critical discussion). 

You should organise your work with well-chosen and informative sub-headings. This will help to structure and develop the discussion. (Please note that ‘Main Body’ is not a helpful sub-heading.)

You must include an Introduction and Conclusion section.  Introductions and Conclusions are essential elements of any good assignment. They provide a ‘book-end’ to your work, giving you the opportunity to ‘set the scene’, demonstrate explicit focus on what the assignment is asking you to do by explicitly referring to the assignment task, and explicitly demonstrating to the reader what you are going to do / have done in your assignment. 

The introduction section must include the following:
-Introduction to the chosen industry/organization/issue (depending on the question) and specific reference to the assignment question. 
-A summary of the key ideas you will present in the discussion, and the key argument you are presenting that satisfies the assignment question.

The conclusion section must include the following:
-A brief discussion of the key ideas presented in the main discussion. Use the conclusion to demonstrate that you have addressed the assignment title. Do not include any new ideas/arguments/information in the conclusion section. 

Quality research and sources
This assignments will require you to undertake specific research into contemporary practitioner documents and academic research articles.  The quality of your work is related to the quality of your sources, and therefore you should think carefully about the sources you are using. 

In terms of practitioner resources, company websites, reputable news outlets, CIPS Supply Management magazine are useful and appropriate resources. 

In terms of academic resources, you are expected to demonstrate engagement with the key texts on the reading list as a bare minimum.  These should be used to develop your ideas and discussion.  Beyond these, additional wider reading should be pursued through quality journals such as those listed in the ‘Reading’ section earlier in this module handbook. 

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