Companies That Struggle In Collaborative Relationships Commerce Essay


The aim of this paper is to discuss and debate why companies struggle to develop collaborative relationships with both suppliers and customers. There have been numerous ideas, views and opinions expressed by many authors and practitioners about collaboration. As a result the scope of the essay will be limited to the benefits that drive companies to collaborate and the constraints they encounter in developing these relationships. In this context, collaboration will be explained; then debate on the benefits and constraints of collaboration as well as discussing the issue of trust and power in building these relationships in supply chain network. The paper is concluded having critically analysed the gathered information concerning the ideology behind suppliers and customers in establishing collaborative relationships.

Collaboration is broad encompassing the whole range of the entire supply chain which can be built on developing a relationship (Barratt, 2004). Wilding (2006) expressed collaboration as working together to collate resources that are required to build relationship to achieve effective operations in harmony with the strategies and objectives of the parties involved resulting in mutual benefits. Hence collaboration involves the contribution of either two or more organisations performing a task to accomplish a common goal. Similarly, Writer Kippenberger (1996) likewise perceived collaboration as partnership involving a customer and supplier pulling their resources to work together so as to attain higher commercial advantage and to benefit both sides as a whole.

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From the given opinions of collaboration, the various authors (Wilding, 2006; Kippenberger, 1996) identified collaboration as working together through information sharing to achieve mutual benefits, rewards and objectives. Authors such as (Kampstra et al. 2006; Humphries and Wilding, 2004) cited that the keystone for companies to enter into collaborative relationship is to gain competitive advantage, reduce their cost of operations and improve upon the operational activities through sharing of information. However the openness of modern supply chain has led to keen competition resulting into "survival of the fittest" among the members of the supply chain (Spekman et al., 1998).

Emmett and Crocker (2006) stipulated that one of the reasons for companies develop collaborative relationship with their suppliers is to add value into their operations. Thus for companies to be successful, collaboration is seen as 'key weapon' that enables customers and suppliers to do away with waste, apply quality and ensure continuous improvement in the provision of better goods and services to their customers. In this case the companies engage in efficient and effective usage of resources at the optimum cost (Mehra and Rangathan, 2008). In addition Pawar and Sharifi (2002) also indicated that companies collaborate purposely to reengineer products due to the global market competitions. Thus keen market competition causes suppliers and customers to come together to adopt production strategies (example; sharing ideas to create joint business plan for introduction of new product) which will enable them to gain competitive advantage over their competitors. An example is evidence by Japanese car makers Honda and Toyota, who nurtured a long-term relationship with their suppliers to outwit their main American competitors Ford and General Motors. The relationship was geared towards an objective focus on results through shared trust, honesty and integrity (Billington et al., 2006). However Vereecke and Muylle (2006) argued that the effort in collaborating between customers and suppliers in the supply chain does not always bring about improvement unless potential partners are identified and drawn into the supply chain because changes in the environmental factors including price-sensitivity of an organisations competitors also plays a major role in determining the potential partners to make collaboration successful. Also, changes in the supplier's commitment, performance and magnitude of communication bring to bare the issue of trust in business relationships (Helender and Moller, (2008).

Trust is viewed as the fundamental cornerstone of business-to-business relationship (Hakansson et al., 2004). Kay (1993) linked the concept of trust to the red-blue game also known as prisoner's dilemma as a phenomenon whereby the reaction of a prisoner will depend on the unknown action of the other prisoner. Thus in the business perspective, the structure of the system can easily influence a firm's decisions and actions. According to Gattorna (2006) a firm usually engages in more than a single supply chain and usually financially independent chain members endeavour to be dependent on one another. This makes the supply chain difficult to predict the firms involved since the supplier will favour or team up with the customer that is financially dependent on. In view of this Simpson (2000) suggested that the red-blue game is characterised by uncertainties about the movement of the suppliers or customers as their behavioural pattern may change at any particular moment. These also occurs because there are more than three to four dominant buying behaviour in the customer base of a given product or service category of which is only one that can be collaborative (Gattorna, 2006).

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Simpson (2000) continue to express that business relationships are epitomise by human behaviour whereby companies try to play a defensive and protective role when engaged in any form of partnership. This could be in the form of opaque legislative instrument or strategy to escape certain clause. But this is mostly spearheaded where there is economic or political power. Humphries and Wilding (2004) pointed out the fact that companies protect or defend themselves based on the past experience they have encountered with either their suppliers or customers cheating or deceiving them along the supply chain activities by means of not communicating transparent information.

On the other hand, Coulson-Thomas (2005) clearly stated that the phenomenon of red-blue game reveal that some organisations seek their interest at the expense of the other companies which makes them reluctant to share certain information to benefit all the parties. This then intensify conflicts of interest and hold back relationships. Kampstra et al. (2006) stated that usually the larger companies are unwilling to share core information due to confidentiality and are of the fear that when some information are shared, their current suppliers could become their future competitors which could limit their influence in the supply chain (Fawcett and Magnan, 2002). According to Armistead and Pettigrew (2004) suppliers or customers who portray the attitude of insincerity, personal gains, power conscious, all deals are one-offs and aspiring to win at all cost in any form of business cause setbacks in collaborative relationships. This leads to a zero-sum (win/lose or lose/win) situation for the chain members involved.

Furthermore inter-organizational trust is sometimes also interrupted by competition in the market causing changes in some companies' objectives and interest in dealing with their partners which may affects their relationship (Mouzas et al., 2007). Considering the case of Baird verses Marks and Spencer, whereby Marks and Spencer abruptly stopped Baird from supplying them with supplies after delivering the current orders. This was an attempt for Marks and Spencer to improve its profit margin by way of streamlining their sourcing policies. Baird then took a court action against its customer to claim cost of closing some production sites (Blois, 2003). In this case, Mark and Spencer did not communicate their intention to their supplier concerning their challenges for them also to streamline their operations as well. But having built this supplier-customer relationship over some period of time, they can come into a compromise to continue the business but under new contract (Ogilvie and Kidder, 2008).

Humphries and Wilding (2004, p.13) stipulated that "relationships are characterised by synergy where high trust and sincerity produce solutions better than the sum of contributions and participants enjoy a creative enterprise". Humphries and Wilding (2004) further pointed out that supplier or customer who demonstrates the attitude of openness, contribution towards quality, trust and desiring into long term deals brings about corporation, coordination and collaboration. And this leads to mutual benefit (win-win business relationship) for the chain members (as shown in figure 1). Therefore the only medium of developing trust is through transparency and effective communication input (Simpson, 2000). The below diagram illustrates a successive collaborative business relationship cycle.

Figure 1: business relationship success cycle (Source: Adapted from: Humphries and Wilding, 2004).

According to Hines and Johns (2001) the activities of supply chain provides a platform that promotes momentous relationship between the customers and suppliers in the sense that customers offer initiatives that guides the suppliers in developing customer satisfactory products in a cost effective way that brings about potential share benefits and build teamwork (cited in Rao and Halt, 2005). In support of these Matchette and Seikel (2004) agrees that cost reduction so as to maximise profits and operational effectiveness is one of the key factors that drives suppliers and customers to enter into collaborative relationship. In minimizing the cost of a supply chain by managing the inventory levels in a number of operations will in the long run cause a reduction in the bullwhip effect (van der Vorst et al., 2007).

Bullwhip effect as indicated by Chen et al. (2000) has been one of the major causes of logistics unsteadiness occurring within the supply chain activities. According to Forrester (1958) the bullwhip effect is a phenomenon whereby the large retailer (downstream) increases its levels of orders to the manufacturer through the first and second tier suppliers (upstream) whereas there is miniature variation indicated in the final demand. The bullwhip effect causes excessive swings and amplification of demand throughout the supply chain. This due to the fact that information flow was partially or ineffectively communicated to aid in planning of the logistics activities (cited in Paik and Bagchi, 2007). Equally, Lee et al. (1997) attributed the variability to price oscillation and customers ordering more than the amount required and frequent update on demand forecast to prevent stock out which generates pile up inventory or backlog (cited in Sharma, et al., 2006).

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In order to explore more into the phenomenon, Paik and Bangchi (2007) conducted a research and also identified one of the main causes of the bullwhip effect as the level of echelon. Thus adding more tiers into a supply chain elongates the parties in arriving at a decision point and sometimes hampers the relationship. The repercussion as illustrated in figure 2 is that the lead-time in the supply chain also increases affecting the information and material flow resulting in demand distortion. However customers will gain advantage in focusing on their order volume and influencing their vendors as well if they are able to collaborate and work with fewer suppliers. These results in cost reduction and quality improvement (Anon, 2009).

Figure 2: causes of bullwhip effect (Source: Adapted from Paik and Bangchi, 2007).

On the other hand, Sharma et al. (2006) also argued that the bullwhip effect can be curtailed through effective information sharing strategies and efficient coordination of operational activities involving all the chain members in building strong relationship (Paik and Bangchi, 2007). According to Fransoo and Wouters (2000) transferring the aggregate retail orders through Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) data which eases information flow can also reduce the bullwhip effect. Citing example, Tesco has improved its management information systems through a newly designed electronic data interchange (EDI) system to facilitate just-in-time operations with their suppliers (Mari, 2009). McCullen and Towill (2001) in their opinion recommended the use of control systems to reduce lead times, eradicating high level of echelon and providing transparent information through the supply chain activities. Though collaboration might not be always voluntary (Kampstra et al. 2006), powerful players such as Wall-Mart, Tesco, etc can force the chain members to collaborate. And by so doing, it is evidently clear that they exercise some level of power on their suppliers in the supply chain. Citing an example, instead of negotiating with the producers (farmers), Tesco rather tells the producers the price to be offered for the dairy products (Wyatt, 2005). Therefore Tesco exerts power over its suppliers and squeeze them financially causing some of them to shift their focus elsewhere.

Belaya and Hanf (2009, p. 1046) defined power as "the ability to affect, influence others, to make, achieve, get things done in order to fulfil one's own will or interest". Cox (2001) claim that suppliers and customer who exert power within the supply chain delays building collaborative relationships. Writer, Coulson-Thomas (2005) stipulated that some large firms who are financially strong in existing market influences the first and second tiers suppliers in the supply chain thereby preventing the suppliers involved collaborating with the smaller firms. In support of these Maloni and Belton (2000) also agrees that power abuse by the powerhouses in the supply chain sometimes leads into dissension and underperformance. Furthermore, Lane and Bachmann (2003) argue that some suppliers or customers have the insight on hidden motives about larger firms and that they do not negotiate in good faith leading to distrust. However, McDermott (2010) suggested the major business leaders can use their powers to positively influence the members of the supply chain to become more innovative and creating an atmosphere of mutual benefit to challenge other non-members as well. According to Stamm (2004) even though innovation create value and attempts to respond to customer needs, the high level of risk and cost associated with it requires collaboration between the suppliers and customers.

Zsidisin and Ellram (2003) claim that companies engage in collaborative relationship in order for them to be able to manage or reduce risk associated to the business. Supply chain is designed around a set of tradeoffs such as fixed or variable cost. Therefore companies collaborate in order to evaluate range of alternatives and understand the concentration of risk in their operational activities such as energy and transportation cost which are more vulnerable to major swings (Kilgore, 2006). Billington et al. (2006) claim that the risk reduction in businesses has worked well in the automotive industry for both suppliers and customers in better capacity utilisation synchronising lean manufacturing and just-in-time operations. However, Beckett (2005) argued that reducing risk in the supply chain requires trust and highly coordinated actions with minimal transactions and close coupling of the detailed operations in a long-term customer-supplier customer relationship. Khan and Burnes (2007) cited an example whereby a supplier or customer provides a financial assistance in investing in machinery or technology so as to supply the buyer. The high cost involved may cause the parties involved to be dependence on each other, hence work together for the interest of all. Therefore they can negotiate for the best price for the supplies as well. The investment will provide a platform for the supplier and customer to enter into a long-term collaborative relationship due to the high cost involved.

On the other hand, the unforeseen events such as 9/11 attack on United States of America, military actions, natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina brought to bare the risk of overdependence on a single supplier or customer, as such events cause uncertainty in the supply chain (Elliot, 2005; Peck and Juttner, 2002). Therefore the risk of a company's operations (downstream) being affected is higher when its supplier (upstream) is hit by any catastrophe. According to (Cheng and Kam, 2008) the effort to continually meet the increasing demand of the market caused a transformation in the dependence on a simple single firm approach to interdependence multi-firm network collaboration.

According to Gross and Yellen (2004) the levels of relationship and interaction between the suppliers and customers through the supply chain activities integrate into supply chain collaborative network. Romano and Vinelli (2001) viewed the supply chain collaborative network as the integrated network of suppliers, manufacturers, distribution, retailers and customers in a business environment. Thus within the supply chain, the chain members involved may also have other suppliers and customers. Lam et al. (2008) used the diagram (figure 3 and 4) to illustrate collaborative supply chain network. The diagram indicates the process in which a Hong Kong lamp manufacturing company comprising of ten organisations interact by means of communicating, cooperating and collaborating in the supply chain network to manufacture the lamps.

Figure 3: interactions of the entities in the manufacturing processes (Source: Adapted Lam et al., 2008).

Figure 4: collaborative supply chain network of a manufacturing company (Source: Adapted Lam et al., 2008).

Measuring the performance of the activities in the supply chain network is essential to the chain members. Authors such as Pourakbar et al. (2007) suggested the use of Genetic Algorithms (GA) to determine the order quantity and inventory shortage level to improve inventory systems, bullwhip effect and optimizing source decisions in the supply chain. Equally, Lam et al. (2008) supported the use of the Genetic Algorithms - Supply Chain Network (GA-SCN) as an effective and efficient network capable of cutting cost and shortening processing times.

Meanwhile, Stamm (2004) claim that lack of trust, lack of support and lack of transparency usually results in collaboration failure hence establishing collaborative relationship requires a thorough evaluation of the supplier or customer which usually takes long time (Ho et al., 2009). In addition, Humphries and Wilding (2004) also stipulated that building business relationships are like marriages where tolerance and forbearance are essential for ensuring success. And this success is recognized in the long-term.

According to Kirby (2003) organisations that are not able to manage their transitions properly either from the employee perspective or changing stages of the product lifecycle or market conditions could cause disruption to the existing collaborative relationship with its suppliers and customers. Meanwhile, Gattorna (2006) suggested that suppliers and customers who do not share the same collaborative values with a firm do not deserve to be treated equally as those who do because each relationship type has a different need for collaboration. Thus the firm plays one off against the other for the purpose of pricing. Moreover, Wildings (2006) re-emphasize that for companies to establish collaborative relationship; first of all, they should have a common focus of communicating by sharing information (trough Information Technology System) and secondly coordinating to synchronize the flow of information that will facilitate decision-making. This also calls for flexibility, agileness and responsiveness in their operations as well as adopting strategies to measure the successes of their relationship. Additionally, Kampstra et al. (2006) suggested that intensive involvement of the chain members in the form of open dialogue will broaden their scope to the non-logistics activities of their operations especially issues in regards to policy constrains, marketing oriented issues and forming partnership related to mutual benefits (shared investment and benefits).

The research has shown that the major pillar in building collaborative relationships is trust. Despite the hitches some companies face in collaborating with business partners, collaboration has made it possible for companies (both suppliers and customers) to reduce their cost of operations, become productive and innovative in designing structures that will eliminate waste in their activities to speed up their responsiveness in satisfying customers' needs within the shortest possible time and maximise profit in the long term. The research revealed that companies are struggling to develop collaborative relationship with their suppliers and customers because of the aforementioned benefits. And companies who do not build collaborative relationships with their customers and suppliers will not survive in the long-term.


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The purpose of this paper is to ascertain whether green supply chain can be achieved considering the global nature of the majority of networks. There have been quite few ideas, and opinions expressed by authors and practitioners concerning "green" due to its embryonic phase. The scope of the paper is limited to the operational activities of supply chain and its impact on the environment. In this context, green supply chain will be explained, discuss the supply chain activities that contribute to the emissions of greenhouse gases and carbon footprint coupled with debate on the effect of adopting "green" into the diverse business operations by corporate entities and policymakers in the world to sustain supply chain activities. The paper is concluded having critically analysed the gathered information concerning the ideology of "green".

Hervani et al. (2005) viewed green supply chain as the activities of supply chain in relation to the support of the protection of the environment. These activities encompass green purchasing, green manufacturing, green distribution and marketing and reverse logistics. So the issue of green focuses on the minimisation of energy or elimination of solid, emissions, chemicals or hazardous waste by material suppliers, contractors, service contractors, vendors, distributors and end users within the supply chain (Rao and Holt, 2005). Similarly Authors such as Ho et al., (2009) also expressed green supply chain as limiting the amount of waste within the supply chain activities in order to preserve energy and protect the environment.

In the quest for mankind's sustenance since resource are scarce (Griffiths and Walls, 2004), foods, raw materials, fuel and other paraphernalia must be moved across massive distances. These resources are moved thousands of miles long away from the producers to the consumers within a country or across regions or continents. Fresh fishes are caught hundreds of nautical miles away from the coast. These commodities require tens of thousands of roads to be constructed to be linked to the production sites, market places which may require warehouses with refrigerated facilities (Murray, 2007). The table below shows the logistical miles some commodities are moved from various countries into the UK and the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the environment either by sea or air.





CO2 emission by





Sea (kg)

Apples (Fugi)


United Kingdom





United Kingdom





United Kingdom




Saudi Arabia

United Kingdom



Spring onions


United Kingdom





United Kingdom





United Kingdom




New Zealand

United Kingdom



Chardonnay (grape)


United Kingdom




South Africa

United Kingdom



Table 1: miles of food travelled into UK (Source: Adapted from Usborne et al., 2007).

According to the International Energy Agency (2007) almost one-third of the global energy demand is used in the manufacturing industry to process primary materials such as iron and steel, cement, paper, non-metallic minerals, chemicals and petrochemicals. Mandil (2007) claim that about 36% of the carbon emission is from manufacturing, 40% from buildings and appliances and 24% from the transport sector globally and that the freight haulage accounts for almost half of the transport emissions. For things to be manufactured, an organisation must coordinate the movement of the materials and information flow from the upstream to the downstream which is termed as supply chain (Carmignani (2009).

Throughout the supply chain activities, carbon emissions are released and the packaging material used in containing the product creates carbon footprint into the environment. In this context, Buckley and Buckley (2005) viewed carbon footprint as the measurement of all greenhouse gases produced daily by human activities through the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation, etc. This is illustrated in figure 1 indicating the contribution to carbon footprint by human activities in the developed world.

Figure 1: elements that contribute to footprint (Source: Adapted from Buckley and Buckley, 2005).

Ernst and Young (2008) pointed out that energy and materials intensive supply chains typically accounts for 75% of a company's emissions and where there is carbon, there is cost. Therefore organisations can reduce their carbon footprint and save the environment by reducing their excessive packaging in their productions. This because more energy is required in producing the packages and the extra volume and weight will cause the transporter (lorries, ships, aircraft, etc) to burn more fuel (Buckley and Buckley, 2005). The UK government in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency and leading retailers have constructed an aerobic digest plant that is capable of recycling food waste to produce biogas which is used to generate electricity and heat (Shields, 2009). Mobile phone Company Sony Ericsson in 2009 also manufactured "green" handsets by cutting packaging recycled plastics and reduced the use of solvents in the paints. The new handset accounts 15% of its carbon footprint lower than its previous models. Sony Ericsson has saved the environment and reduced cost from reducing the weight of paper transported by replacing it with an electronic version (Jha, 2009).

Oil is a major commodity used globally throughout the various stages of the supply chain from cradle-to-grave. The oil which is used to generate power for the production of petroleum products is also used to run the engines of automobiles, aircrafts, agriculture purpose, domestic use, etc leads to emission of green house gases (Ho et al., 2009). According to Meyer (2008) the future availability of oil is limited as chunk of these oil is imported from countries that promote terrorism coupled with the increased demand for oil by the industrialised countries has forced the oil prices to rise. And the increasing world population creating swift urbanisation stretching the limited capacity of ecosystem is forcing businesses to adopt efficient ways of using energy and other alternatives without jeopardizing the environment. However, Buckley and Buckley (2005) claim that switching to the use of renewable energy produced from biomass, coalmine methane, hydropower, landfill gas, wind power, solar power, and wave and tidal power in producing goods and services will contribute to low or zero levels of greenhouse gases. Also switching from the use of petroleum base packaging materials such as Styrofoam, bubble-wrap, etc to the bioplastics (example composting bags and sacks, fast food service ware, etc) which are biodegradable will reduce the landfills sites and global-warming gases into the atmosphere Ho et al., (2009). The diagram (figure 2) illustrates the various stages across the supply chain where the emissions usually occur from cradle (obtaining resources from nature) to grave (dumping the waste).

Figure 2: emissions of CO2 in the supply chain (Source: Adapted from Schmidt, 2009).

Apart from the CO2 emission, there are other dangerous gases including hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons or sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon monoxide (CO), etc are also released through the supply chain activities. These greenhouse gases constitutes to the greenhouse effect (Schmidt, 2009).

Every organisation and household irrespective of the industry is operating and domiciled, in one way or the other will be affected by the emission of greenhouse gas. This could be curtailed through sturdy emission-reduction legislation (Lash and Willington, 2007). Therefore reducing these emissions today and the future and is becoming a major concern to all (Rao and Holt, 2005). According to Patel (2009) companies that have not embraced green practices in their supply chain allow inefficient processes to continue unabated in their businesses causing unnecessary waste and pollution. Citing an example, the United States automotive industry ineffectiveness in their businesses processes allowed the innovative Japanese automakers to become market leaders. This because the resources including raw materials were underutilized and unnecessary energy was used due to inefficient equipment thereby releasing carbon dioxide emission into the environment. The main difference was the Japanese adopting the lean manufacturing system in their operations (Lewis, 2000). Therefore becoming "green" or going "green" through green supply chain is professed as not only protecting and preserving the environment but it serves as a means of reducing the firm's supply chain costs and improving the company's business operations as a whole (Yug, 2008).

Ernst and Young (2008) highlighted increase cost base as the greatest risk of going green, suggesting that the efforts of the companies towards operational efficiency and energy savings would be offset by increased capital cost and price increases from the suppliers. On the other hand, Ho et al., (2009) a team of researchers argued that people have the perception that 'green' brings about higher cost of operations but the philosophy behind it is for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, etc to become creative in their operations which will reduce cost, minimise waste and pollution and efficient use of resources. Rao (2002) in his opinion stated that practicing "green" leads to intensive collaborative decision-making processes that promote environmental innovations. Authors such as (Lash and Willington, 2007) also claim that going green provides a platform that offers new sources of competitive advantage for organisations that will capitalize on that opportunity. Citing example, Jaguar Land Rover over the years has orchestrated the use of diverse suppliers from the UK/ European supply base whereby its operations focuses on low-cost sourcing and manufacturing vehicles from built-to-stock to built-to-customer. Thus using "leagile" model in its operation which has increased its productivity and reduce its operational cost. This operational strategy has reduced its CO2 emission across its supply chain and other waste are cut off (Milt, 2008).

Mckinnon (2008) pointed out that most of the vehicles capacity are underutilised in the supply chain activities and these vehicles to an extent create congestion on the roads. Congestion on the road increases the carbon emissions into the environment. However Agg (2009) argued that since 20% of the carbon emission is attributable to freight transport; hence reducing the number of underutilised vehicles in the supply chain will reduce the number of vehicles on the road, save fuel, cuts emissions and moreover cuts organisational operational cost and save overhead cost. Citing example, the retailers, food and drink industry such as Coca Cola, Colgate Palmolive and Heinz uses sophisticated information technology and order processing systems in supporting their suppliers in developing innovative systems to maximise vehicle utilisation and reduce journey mileage. These companies engage in sharing vehicle space in order to drive efficiency benefits in both cost and carbon. Nathesh (2008) stated that the use of the "green" IT in storing and processing information in the supply chain network eases information flow, speed up operational activities, reduces paper usage and miles travelled and cost.

One school of thought by Leonardi and Baumgartner (2004) is that haulage trucks should be enforced to embark on night journeys to curtail congestion and less carbon emission. However, Geroliminis and Daganzo (2005) argued that delivering goods at night will affect just-in-time operations by delaying the movement of goods and services to their expected destinations. In support of these, McWilliam (2007) suggested five key performance indicators (KPI) that will help haulage operators to track their fleet performance periodically. These include vehicle fill, empty running, and time utilisation, deviation from schedule and fuel consumption. Monitoring the indicators will help the organisations to modify their operations of achieving green supply chain.

Kewill (2008) made a survey on companies and claim that switching to the use of either hybrid, electric or hydrogen powered vehicles and replacing ageing fleets of vehicles, airplanes and ships will also reduce carbon emissions. According to Davies (2009) modern ships designed are capable of emitting 5g of CO2 per tonne-kilometre compared to 50g CO2 per tonne-kilometre of heavy trucks or 540g CO2 per tonne-kilometre of modern cargo plane. As shown in table 1, water transport releases lesser emission compared to air transport. Therefore persuading suppliers, manufacturers, etc to understand the significance of the water and rail to their operations will reduce their supply chain cost leading to less carbon emission and congestion on the roads (Carr, 2009). Kewill (2008) further suggested the use of 'green' warehouses to replace the older facilities and switching to e-commerce will reduce unnecessary use of paper in business activities.

The growth of carbon emissions has been an environmental challenge that requires urgent measures especially from the business organisations to develop a corporate sustainability mindset and implant it into their supply chain activities. Harrison (2009) viewed corporate sustainability as achieving organisational objectives embedded with synergetic approach in dealing with social expectations. And becoming socially accountable brings to bare the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the members of the supply chain. Harrison (2009) re-emphasized that "it is possible to go green and still run a successful business". This has been evidence in the operations of some multinational enterprises (MNE). According to Yug (2008) Nestle has employed a company-wide sustainability programme in regards to the use of its product packaging. Between the year 1991 and 2006, Nestle worldwide has made $510million savings by initiating an integrated approach that favours source reduction, re-use, recycling and energy recovery. Similarly, Wal-Mart has initiated a goal of 5% reduction in packaging by 2013 and by so doing has introduced a "packaging scorecard" to rate the company's suppliers on their sustainability based on greenhouse gas emission. Wal-Mart anticipates of saving 667,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions to make a rough savings of $11 billion across the supply chain (Yug, 2008). Furthermore, Tesco has also built an automated recycling facility in Scotland capable of recycling cans, plastics and glasses leading to fewer lorry collections and reducing carbon emissions (Smith, 2009).

Mebratu (2009) argued that the operational constraints of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in regards to lack of finance to acquire 'green' technologies into their operations, limited production and storage capacity in achieving economies of scale, may hold back these enterprises from embracing green. This will make the MNE's to dominate the market which may lead to some of the SME's to be out of business. On the other hand, Wittneben and Kiyar, (2009) suggested that capitalizing on energy efficiency gain, switching to renewable energy sources and developing measures to reduce greenhouse gas across the system of production and consumption will help small and medium suppliers and customers or end users to go green.

Moreover, Fisher and Lovell (2009) stated that some corporate firms have taken the initiative of influencing the behaviours of their customers to go green as part of their CSR. Citing the case whereby Ireland's supermarkets charged customers 10p per plastic bag used caused the customers to switch to the usage of "bags-for-life" which was seen as environmentally friendly. In an effort to be socially responsible, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company and ContourGlobal constructed a combined heat and power (CHP) plant located at Coca-Cola Hellenic bottling facility in Romania that is capable of lowering CO2 emissions by capturing over 95% of its CO2 emissions for use in industrial and commercial processes (ContourGlobal, 2009). The facility aims at reducing energy use in its operations as part of Coca Cola's environmental protection measures. However, Yug (2008) claim that the keystone to green sustainability is coordination; corporate communication whereby impacts of initiatives will be communicated to customers, shareholders and the general public and collaboration of the supply chain members both upstream and downstream to recognize the financial benefits from the green agenda.

The effort of sustaining the environment in response to the increasing emission of gaseous substances and waste into the environment resulting to the global warming brought into force the Kyoto Protocol (Kolk and Pinkse, 2006; Wittneben and Kiyar, 2009), a climate policy aim at requiring developed countries and companies operating within to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions (Lash and Willington, 2007). According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (2009), the Kyoto Protocol climate policy only applied to a small set of countries and in an effort to include the developing countries in order to curtail the growth of the global greenhouse emissions led to the Copenhagen Climate Summit, 2009. The main objective was to create the global awareness the need to prevent climate change and global warming. The summit also aimed at "promoting constructive dialogue between the government, business and sciences" (Phelamei, 2009). However, the summit ended without achieving its objective by stopping the dangerous climate change (Black, 2009). Reynolds (2009) attributed the cause to lack of political commitment of the developing countries spearheaded by the BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) to endorse the "Copenhagen Accord".

Kasperson et al. (2003) argued that one school of thought regarding the inactiveness of the developing countries in green issues despite the fact that they are financially handicapped and always dependent on foreign donors for assistance, engaging in green supply chain will be their greatest challenge because of poor and inadequate infrastructure. And moreover the risks that corrupt governments and multinational enterprises will undermine the endeavours of the pacesetters within those countries. Lash and Willington (2007) also anticipated that the future regulations on carbon footprint will lead to higher component and energy cost which will be transferred to the customers or end users. On the other hand, Clarke (2002) claim that achieving green should be seen as a guide-rail for sustainable development because it leads to protection of the environment through reduction in carbon emissions and waste disposal resulting into healthy living that facilitate and promote economic growth. Also engaging in green supply chain in the broader perspective alleviates poverty. Yug (2008) stated that attempting to achieve green in the short-term may negatively impact on the organisation's bottom line due to its capital intensiveness hence "greening" should be a long-term strategy since its best accomplished in smaller steps.

Authors such as Yang et al. (2009) pointed out that producing for local consumption will promote "green" since less transportation will be required for supply chain activities. Moreover it will also create local jobs, reduce mileage travels, packaging and waste, sustain the environment and improve health. However, Snelling (2010) made a counter argument that manufacturing goods and services within a nation's boundary means risking the livelihood of millions of people living in the rural areas of developing countries especially Africa and Asia into extreme poverty and may not promote international trade (cited in Anon, 2010). In addition Salatin (2009) also argued that localisation in the effort to protect and preserve the environment can be expensive. Citing example whereby UK local farmers are unable to produce in larger scales and moreover the high expenses involved in complying with the government regulations makes their produce expensive than the imported produce. The authors (Salatin, 2009; Snelling, 2010) agreed to the economist Johnson et al. (2005) who claim that it is more economic or cheaper to purchase something outside a nation's boundary if other nations can efficiently produce it at the minimum cost without jeopardizing the environment.

Finally, Patel (2009) articulated that the transition to green supply chain by companies requires seeking for potential suppliers or customers that are capable of minimizing their environmental impact without reducing the quality of products produced. Therefore cultivating the habit of purchasing products from green supplier businesses will then initiate their green supply chain before any material reaches their site. However the onus lies on a strong focused leadership.

Green supply chain is a concept that is beginning to gain momentum. The research reveals that going green will positively contribute to the value of business entities such as reducing material wastage and operating cost, increase competitiveness and productivity, maximise profit, improves workers life and contribute to saving the environment. Enacting an environmentally sustainable business practices will require comprehensive understanding of the firms involved in the supply chain network including the shareholders due to the cost involved in initiating green. Though currently it seems to be a challenge to many business firms and people in the developing countries especially, it is foreseen in the future as an achievable concept since all efforts are being geared towards it.