ADVANCING THE SOCIOPOLITICAL VIEW OF SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
Dr. Ismail Gölgeci, Aarhus University, Denmark
Dr. Samuel Roscoe, Thompson Rivers University, Canada
Dr. David M. Gligor, Florida Gulf Coast University, US
Dr. Chang Hoon Oh, University of Kansas, US
Early conceptualizations of supply chain management focused on how companies and their suppliers coordinate the flow of production, information, and finances to satisfy customers’ demands on-time and in-full (Cooper et al., 1997; Lambert & Cooper, 2000; Lambert et al., 1998; Mentzer et al., 2001). Most research from this period considered supply chains as isolated mechanistic systems and overlooked the social and political contexts in which supply chains operate (Wieland, 2021). Indeed, the sociopolitical environment, characterized by social, cultural, and political elements that interact across local, national, and international scales, has been largely left out of early characterizations of supply chain management (SCM), and this legacy has persisted throughout the development of the field.
Today’s business reality is one where political tensions are high (Baudier et al., 2021; Witt, 2019), and sociopolitical forces play an amplified role in global trade. Take, for example, the decoupling of global trade flows between the major economic forces of the world (i.e., China and the U.S.) (Witt et al., 2023), which is having profound implications on global supply chain (GSC) design and management (Roscoe et al., 2022). Similarly, sanctions imposed by foreign governments (Meyer et al., 2023) and supply chain legislation in countries such as Germany (Rühl, 2020) and the U.K. (see the Modern Slavery Act) have made local businesses accountable for the practices of their supply chain partners.
Scholars in the fields of international business and economic geography have examined the roles of sociopolitical context in the governance of global value chains (GVCs), which serve as a unique operational alternative for multinational enterprises. GVCs refer to the “holistic systems and governance structures of value creation and provision that span across multiple countries” (Gölgeci et al., 2021, p. 646). This lens provides insights across multiple scales (local, regional, international) into the effects of trade and economic policy on the movement of goods between nation-states (Gereffi & Lee, 2012; Richey et al., 2022). The concept of Global Production Networks (GPNs) pays attention to the underlying political and economic forces that shape the ongoing formation and reconfiguration of global trade flows between countries (Hughes et al., 2015; Yeung, 2021). Yet, similar macro and multi-scalar approaches to understanding supply chain phenomenon are largely missing from the field of SCM.
It is no longer possible to ignore the ways in which sociopolitical forces shape the design, organization, and orchestration of GSCs. Unfortunately, with the exception of rare research that accounts for the role of various sociopolitical factors (e.g., Handfield et al., 2020; Mann, 2012; Wieland, 2021), there is a dearth of research adopting a holistic and multi-scalar view of the sociopolitical environment in SCM research.
This call for papers aims to advance a sociopolitical perspective of SCM. To do so, we call on scholars and practitioners to develop new theories or extend existing theories (see GVCs and GPNs) of the effects of sociopolitical forces on the location, connection, and configuration of GSCs. We expect this special issue to bring substantial contributions to the field by examining contemporary sociopolitical events and their impact on GSCs, including (but not limited to): geopolitical tensions between nation-states, war, nationalism, protectionism, economic decoupling, supply chain legislation, friend-shoring, economic and political sanctions, trade policy, economic policy, and industrial strategy, and politically driven demographic changes.
This special issue will contribute to ongoing discourses in IJOPM on how socio-political and geopolitical forces are reshaping GSCs. Recent articles in IJOPM have explored how the U.K.’s departure from the E.U. (i.e., Brexit) has led to the relocation of manufacturing and supplier facilities (Hendry et al., 2019; Moradlou et al., 2021; Roscoe et al., 2020). Other articles have been broader in scope, considering how the compounding disruptions caused by Brexit, Covid-19, and the US-China Trade War have reshaped GSCs (Handfield et al., 2020; Roscoe et al., 2022). These studies have drawn on theories from the fields of strategy, management, and international business (Institutional Theory, Dunning’s Eclectic Paradigm, and Dynamic Capabilities) to gain insights into how social, political, and economic forces impact GSCs. A recent study in IJOPM by Roscoe et al. (2022) has gone further by extending organizational logics beyond the boundaries of the firm to understand the decision-making logic of supply chain managers when faced with persistent geopolitical risks. Articles from other leading operations management journals have also applied management and strategy theories within a supply chain context to understand how firms manage geopolitical risk. For example, Charpin et al. (2021) use an institutional theory lens to identify three different supplier development strategies for U.S. foreign subunits operating in China during the US-China trade war. Fan et al. (2022) use transaction cost theory to show that imposing trade tariffs affects domestic industries negatively, especially when firms rely heavily on overseas sourcing.
While this body of literature has established a solid base to explore the impact of economic and political forces on GSCs, the sociopolitical view of SCM has not yet been fully developed and established. As such, there remain a number of gaps and untapped opportunities to advance the sociopolitical view of global SCM. First, these studies borrow existing managerial and strategy theories and apply them to understand supply chain-level phenomena. So, while we are gaining some understanding of how macro-level factors influence meso-level supply chain decisions, the impact on micro-level factors, such as buyer-supplier relationships, inventory positioning, final-mile delivery, and reverse logistics, is largely missing. At the same time, these existing studies take a unidirectional view of how external political forces shape supply chain processes and not how supply chain managers can interact with, and exert pressure on, policymakers. They also fail to fully appreciate the social and political contexts in which supply chains operate and advance an understanding of how meso-level actors in supply chains engage with macro-level sociopolitical forces (Wieland, 2021).
Moreover, these studies tend to be framed in terms of managing the political and economic risks associated with trade wars and tensions between nation-states. The ways in which political events and policy decisions influence social and cultural norms (purchasing habits, brand perceptions), and the resulting impact on GSCs, remain an under-researched topic. This special issue intends to address these gaps by receiving high-quality articles that move the OM/SCM field closer to a comprehensive theoretical framework that explains the inter-relationship between socio-political forces and GSCs across macro, meso, and micro scales.
We welcome submissions to this special issue. Topics covered include (but are not limited to):
1. International wars and armed conflict.
2. The decoupling of economic powers.
3. De-globalization, nationalism, and protectionism.
4. Geopolitical rivalry and critical supply chains.
5. Supply chain legislation and policies across the globe.
6. Global supply chain design and operations under sanctions and tariff wars.
7. Politically driven demographic changes.
Deadline and Submission Details
The submission deadline for all papers is 29/02/2024
The publication date of this special issue is 31/01/2025
To submit your research, please visit the Scholar One manuscript portal.
To view the author guidelines for this journal, please visit the journal's page.
Contact the Guest Editor:
DR. ISMAIL GÖLGECI