For the blog posting this week I chose to use a “piece of knowledge” on Freeman. An optional reading for our session 4 class back in February was Edward Freeman’s Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation. Ever since taking Management 101 the concept of stakeholders has interested me: how to identify who is a stakeholder, are their various levels, how does one encapsulate the needs of stakeholders and somehow make that align or fit within what the mission of the overall corporation is, etc.
I searched Stakeholder Theory and Freeman within the Web of Knowledge database. Since Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation itself is within another piece of work, I browsed around a bit, checking out other pieces of work by Freeman regarding stakeholder theory. I spent some time searched within those for different terms, such as Wal-Mart, but did not come up with many results nor any I was particularly interested in. I eventually narrowed my focus onto Stakeholder Theory and “the corporate objective revisited” . This has been cited 76 times within the Web of Knowledge database! In settling on this document, I began sifting through the 76 items cited; I wasn’t really thrilled with this set of resources either. I eventually found an article that, from it’s abstract at least, appeared really interesting: Social Sustainability in Selecting Emerging Economy Suppliers by M. Ehrgott, F. Reimann, L. Kaufmann, and C.R. Carter. The source of the article is Journal of Business Ethics. I did a cited reference search on this article as well, but it has only been cited 3 times within Web of Knowledge.
The abstract provides great insight into what the study was about, summing it up better than I can attempt to: “Abstract: Despite the growing public awareness of social sustainability issues, little is known about what drives firms to emphasize social criteria in their supplier management practices and what the precise benefits of such efforts are. This is especially true for relationships with international suppliers from the world’s emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Building on stakeholder theory, we address the issue by examining how pressures from customers, the government, and employees as primary constituencies of the firm determine the extent to which firms consider social aspects in the selection of emerging economy suppliers. Further, we analyze how such socially sustainable supplier selection relates to the capabilities of the firm’s suppliers, its market reputation, and the learning in its supply management organization. We test the developed research framework empirically using data from 244 U.S. and German corporations. Our findings, consistent with our hypothesized model, suggest that middle-level supply managers as internal stakeholders play a major driving role for firms’ socially sustainable supplier selection, and that strong positive links exist between that selection and the investigated outcomes.” You can also view the full text here: PDF.
Two questions were posed in their research which they used to formulate their hypotheses. One question hones in on the extent to which primary stakeholders pressure firms to consider social standards in selecting suppliers from emerging economies. The second research question examined is in regards to three parts: capabilities of emerging economy suppliers, their market reputation and the organizational learning in their supply management functions. The question here was how to firms benefit from adhering to their social standards in regards to each of the three parts mentioned. From the study, they displayed their results in a structural equation model:
It is obvious to point out the .58 outcome of middle-level supply managers and how this internal stakeholder pressure plays a role as “the most significant driving force” to selecting emerging economy suppliers. What was interesting to me in the study, and what I feel could be most relevant to some of the discussions we’ve had in class, is the results could be used to infer the concept of person-organization fit. This concept suggests “it is beneficial for the firm to match employee social values and expectations by shaping supplier selection policies accordingly” (Ehrgott et al, 10). I made a connecting thought of Nike and the codes of conduct they provided to their independent contracted factories. In this case, I don’t think for a second the values of Nike cascaded to their sites of operations. This concept also provoked the thought of my experiences with J&J as a marketing co-op this past fall. The credo at J&J is highly regarded as being an authentic telling of what J&J stands for as a corporation. The culture there for the most part reflected the family atmosphere one would assume from their credo. It was also used various times throughout my co-op in discussions, which furthered my belief of people actually wanting the company to align decisions to the credo. Not to mention, the J&J Credo is sited TONS of times in a multitude of sources as a “best practice.”
Overall, I think the cited reference search tool has potential. Though there are varying degrees of results when looking through what has cited the initial work or “piece of knowledge” searched, Web of Knowledge is useful in that it allows you to search terms within those cited, date ranges, and other metrics to help narrow the search.