Module learning outcomes being assessed
LO1. Critically assess the strategic impact of Supply Chain Management, and organization competitiveness in different industrial contexts.
LO2. Apply knowledge and critical evaluation of organizational strategic direction to the development of Supply Chain and operations resources and capabilities.
LO4. Diagnose the implications of relevant Supply Chain ethical issues and recommend guidelines for their management.
LO5. Contrast and critically discuss different ways of assessing organizational and Supply Chain performance.
This assignment requires you to write a 3000 word original essay answering the following questions:
Supply chains in many industries are increasingly fragmented and dispersed across international borders and large distances, with production processes similarly dispersed around the globe. In these supply networks, suppliers and customers are linked by information, material and capital flows managed with differing degrees of success and scrutiny. As a consequence, the potential benefits from sourcing in this manner, are usually accompanied by increased risk to environmental and social sustainability.
The operations and supply management concept of the ‘trade-off’ suggests that increased performance on one dimension can only be achieved at the expense of performance on another, that is, one of either economic or environmental and social sustainability. As an example, this might mean that improved financial performance is only achieved at the expense of poorer working conditions, that is, reduced social sustainability. Others argue that these objectives can in some ways be mutually reinforcing. The answer may however ultimately rest in the way in which the supply chain is managed, that is, the supply chain strategy and its link to performance.
PART A – Literature Review (50% of marks)
Carry out a review of selected literature on the strategic role of supply chain management, and sustainable supply chain management, in particular examining the relationship between supply chain strategies, sustainability and performance using relevant criteria e.g. financial/economic. (You should draw insights from around 8 – 12 published journal articles, as well as more general sources such as textbooks for more fundamental operations management, strategic planning and (strategic) supply chain management principles.)
PART B – Case analysis (50% of marks)
Using good-quality secondary sources such as company reports, the trade press and the business press, identify, describe and analyze one case of a firm where sustainability in an internationally dispersed supply chain is an important issue. Examine the case using the key ideas from your literature review. The overarching question is – does the case that you examine confirm the trade-off argument and what is the role of supply chain strategy in managing this trade-off?
Case selection might be based on various factors, including but not limited to:
• prominent recent problems in the supply chain relating to sustainability,
• firms that particularly strongly emphasize their sustainability credentials or utilize innovative supply chain strategies
• firms or industries that you may know about or be interested in.
You may find it best to concentrate on one aspect of sustainability in your analysis (e.g. environmental or social).
Read and use relevant academic sources, correctly referenced. I am interested in your analysis of secondary data, so please do not simply reproduce other authors’ analyses of cases from academic sources. Please use diagrams, maps, photographs, tables and bullet-points to summarize and illustrate important points, but do not over-depend on them: you need to write prose to develop an argument. If you wish to use another author’s exact words in a short quotation this must be clearly marked up in inverted commas with the exact source given, including page number, so that the reader can clearly see which words have been copied and are not your own. Just quoting references used at the end is not sufficient.
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