Journal of Supply Chain Management 2021 Emerging Discourse Incubator:
Managing Working Conditions in Supply Chains: Towards Decent Work
Decent work refers to “opportunities for work that is productive and
delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for
families, better prospects for personal development and social integration,
freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in
the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and
treatment for all women and men” (ILO, 2019). The goal of decent work for
all is enshrined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as SDG 8,
“Decent work and Economic Growth”. Yet in many supply chains this goal
remains elusive. For example, there is evidence that the supply chains of
several prominent companies, such as Amazon, have not adequately addressed
worker safety concerns in regard to the COVID-19 virus.

For decades, studies on decent work across disciplines like development
studies, geography, political science, sociology and management have
focused on various topics including barriers to decent work, causes of
indecent work, and measures to improve and maintain decent work (e.g. Anker
et al., 2003
Barrientos, 2013
Blustein et al., 2016
Grandey et al., 2015
Sehnbruch et al., 2015
Insights from these studies have informed policies and practices across the
globe, many of them focused on the governance of global supply chains.

Research on working conditions in SCM is often conducted under the broader
theme of sustainable supply chain management. Under this theme, research
has focused on topics such as the supplier capabilities for social
management (Huq et al., 2016
occupational health & safety (e.g. Cantor et al., 2017
Pagell et al., 2018
including that of emerging economy suppliers (Hamja et al., 2019), and the
role of intermediaries in managing suppliers’ social practices
(Soundararajan & Brammer, 2018
Wilhelm et al., 2016

Nevertheless, a closer look at these studies suggests that decent work and
SCM scholarship have had very little interaction. Therefore, this emerging
discourse incubator encourages further attention to the interface of decent
work and supply chain management. A key feature of such research would be
that it accounted for the supply chain context, both within and between
organizations. Within an organization, decisions about the composition and
treatment of the workforce are often separate from supply chain decisions
and these supply chain decisions often occur across multiple functions.
Equally, supply chain decision makers often influence and are accountable
not only for their own organization but also for what other organizations
(often in other countries or in a remote supply chain tier) do.
Guaranteeing decent work in a supply chain that is accountable to all of
its stakeholders, including shareholders and managers, is highly complex,
and research for this EDI should account for these complexities.
Research Opportunities

We seek high-quality empirical submissions that explore decent work in
supply chains from diverse perspectives and that advance theory and
practice in line with JSCM’s mission. While we are open to submissions
using both qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as purely
conceptual papers, submissions must make signification theoretical
contributions. Authors are explicitly encouraged to incorporate insights
from the two recent Emerging Discourse Incubators in the Journal of Supply
Chain Management on “*Research at the Intersection of Supply Chain
Management and Public Policy and Government Regulation*”1
et al., 2019
and “*Research Where the Focal Actor in the Network is Not a For-Profit
Fugate, & Flynn, 2018
Pagell, Wiengarten, Fan, Humphreys, & Lo, 2018
and connect them to the topic of decent work in global supply chains.

*Deadline: 31st January 2022*
For the full call, please see:

Please direct any queries to guest editors Vivek Soundararajan (
[log in to unmask]), Miriam Wilhelm ([log in to unmask]) and Andrew
Crane ([log in to unmask]) or JSCM co-editor Mark Pagell (
[log in to unmask])

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