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Social auditing in the supply chain: business legitimisation strategy rather than a change agent

Social auditing in the supply chain: business legitimisation strategy rather than a change agent

Rahim, Mia Mahmudur, Kuruppu, Sanjaya Chinthana and Islam, Md Tarikul ORCID: 0000-0002-2165-1203 (2022) Social auditing in the supply chain: business legitimisation strategy rather than a change agent. Meditari Accountancy Research. ISSN 2049-372X (doi:

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This paper aims to examine the role of social auditing in legitimising the relationship between the buyer and supplier firms rather than strengthening corporate accountability in the global supply chain.
Applying case study methodology and drawing on Suchman’s theory on societal legitimacy, it is argued that social audits are artefacts of legitimacy, and global firms dominate the buyer–supplier relationship across the supply chain. The analysis is based on data collected from different secondary sources, including Walmart’s corporate sustainability reports.
Using Walmart’s relationship with Tazreen Fashions Limited around the Tazreen factory fire incident as a case study, it explains that the practices which attempt to symbolically demonstrate accountability from social audits need to shift to a more continuous and sincere demonstration of accountability through the social audit process. For this to occur, the cognitive and pragmatic approaches that international buyers have previously used in auditing their supply firms’ social responsibility are no longer sufficient to achieve societal legitimacy. Instead, a moral turn needs to underpin the intentions and actions of these buyers to maintain legitimacy and demonstrate accountability across the supply industry in developing economies.
The findings of the study answer the questions raised in the extant literature about the expectation from social auditing and whether social auditing serves to ensure corporate accountability. The paper contributes to the policymaking discussion of how social auditing can be configured to include a legal provision to ensure that social auditing is not a parroting tool for corporations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: social auditing; legitimacy; ready-made garment industry; Walmart; Tazreen; Bangladesh
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Accounting & Finance
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 07:51

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