Huawei: Struggling to Develop a More Sustainable Supply Network
(9 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
From 2000 to 2019, the department of corporate social responsibility and global supplier management at Huawei Technologies Company Limited had been trying to engage hundreds of Chinese suppliers on sustainability. The department’s effort included orchestrating multiple, diverse, sustainability initiatives, from auditing to contributing to the rollout of a self-assessment tool launched in 2012 by the British Telecom Group (BT). However, the auditing, even when delivered through a joint initiative established by international communications tech companies in 2013, seemed unlikely to cause pathbreaking development in Huawei’s large and fragmented supply network. Initial experiences with the self-assessment tool were proving equally unsuccessful in introducing suppliers to more sustainable products and operations and stimulating engagement among them. Why were these initiatives failing to produce improvement? What else could be done to effectively and efficiently engage hundreds of Chinese suppliers on sustainability?
The case can be used in both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on sustainability or procurement. The case encourages students to examine the challenges related to the development of a more sustainable supply network. After working through the case and assignment questions, depending on the specific course and the instructor's emphasis, students will be able to
- evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of diverse initiatives that original equipment manufacturers can deploy to engage a large, fragmented supply network on sustainability;
- examine the underlying economic and organizational reasons why suppliers fail to adopt, and adapt to, greener and safer production practices; and
- assess how the structural dimensions of a supply network—fragmentation, localization, and clustering—can hamper (or foster) the diffusion of sustainability in the supply network.
China, Large, 2019
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