Value added sustainable procurement customer's perspective as perceived by companies : an empirical study of western european food and beverage companies
Lacroix, Richard - Nicolas
In our days, sustainable procurement is considered as a particularly popular practice for companies, being implemented as a part of a larger sustainability strategy or solely as part of the procurement function. For the last ten years, sustainable procurement was applied primarily at a tactical level, aiming mainly in reducing environmental costs on procurement activities with suppliers. However, during the last five year period, besides cost cutting, the sustainable procurement implementation by management has often become the pretext to improve operations efficiency and generate new sustainable products, develop niche markets and grow market share. Thus, sustainable procurement has become a new means for management to implement strategies aiming at the acquisition of best possible supplies which are socially and ethically acceptable to consumers while preserving the environment from pollution and depletion, hence in the maintenance of their competitive advantage. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the dimensions of this phenomenon, specifically in the Western European context, and realize the existence of any strategic orientation to the relative decisions taken. In order to approach this subject in the best possible way, we recorded the extent of its application to the activities of companies and studied the characteristics of the decisions and the behavior of these companies with regards to sustainable procurement. This was achieved on the one hand through a research conducted using questionnaires that were emailed to food and beverage companies operating in Western Europe and on the other hand by conducting follow-up interviews to validate and seek further in-depth information not readily obtained through the questionnaires. The results of the study allowed us to investigate basic assumptions of theories applied to sustainable procurement of companies. This led us to a number of conclusions regarding the attitude of companies to successfully implement sustainable procurement, the problems and the strategic dimension of these decisions and the implementation of the respective theories in Western European food and beverage companies. The main conclusions of our study referred to the ever-increasing usage of sustainable procurement of companies operating in Western Europe, the considerable adoption of sustainable procurement, and the necessity for the application of a mix of theories to explain the behavior of companies regarding the issue of sustainable procurement. Finally, based on our conclusions and best practices found in the literature, we made implications that will help companies minimize their possible losses and optimize their profits from the use of sustainable procurement.