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Managing sustainable supply chains in developed and developing countries

Prasanta Dey

10 December 2014

UK business leaders and government representatives discovered more about international supply chain research involving Aston and Jadavpur universities.

Engineering and manufacturing businesses, government officials and international researchers,  attended the Aston Business School round table, which highlighted the  operational and environmental challenges facing SMEs in both developed and developing countries.

Aston’s Professor Prasanta Dey and Dr Sadhan Kumar Ghosh, Jadavpur University (India) showcased their joint two-year research into sustainable supply chain management in the UK and India. They detailed the issues facing SMEs across operational, economic, environmental and social agendas and the current UK and international companies working with Aston and Jadavpur to improve their supply chain management.

Their research reveals that the greatest motivation for SMEs to consider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) comes from a sense of moral duty while a company’s environmental considerations are motivated by legislation. The greatest demands on SMEs to observe environment issues are from government, while the biggest demands for SMEs to be social responsible are from their customer base. Additionally, SMEs in both countries adopt environmental friendly practices that are economically feasible. While Indian SMEs in the study are suffering from more supply side issues, UK SMEs have huge challenges in the demand side. Employee turnover is the greatest challenge to the internal operations of SMEs business in both countries. 

There was also a round table opportunity for UK participants to share their experiences, initiatives and best practices in managing efficient supply chains as part of the British Council and Department of Science and Technology funded event under UK India Educational Research Initiatives (UKIERI).  Business speakers included Kate Edwards, J8 Precision; Keith Pallett, CoMech; and Ken Worsdale, Foxwood Diesel.

Kate Edwards, CEO of J8 precision, based in Birmingham and currently exporting to Eastern Europe and US markets, said:“I believe that SMEs need to collaborate to create greater opportunities globally. Discussions like these are a great opportunity to meet people working in the SME sector. I think SME partnerships really are key to improving supply chain management and for unlocking potential new markets and their associated benefits.”

Ken Worsdale, CEO of Foxwood Diesel said: OEMs have great role to make SMEs supply chain more sustainable. Long term partnership and effective communication with upstream suppliers not only makes the supply chain efficient but  also enhances service level to end customers. I think that academics are in better position to help SMEs to establish collaboration with OEMs. “   

Professor Prasanta Dey (Operations & Information Management), said:  While it is widely accepted that SMEs play a significant role in economic development, they also exert considerable pressure on the environment, not individually, but collectively. This discussion was designed to suggested possible solutions to improving supply chain management and to capture the perceptions of the participants on role of the supply chain stakeholders for making the supply chain sustainable. In-turn, this can vastly improve social and environmental responsibilities and performances of each individual business.”

Dr Sadhan Kumar Ghosh, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Jadavpur University added:“Small and medium sized enterprises make up around 90% of the world’s business and employ 50 – 60% of the world’s population. If we can improve the environmental performances and social responsibilities of companies through better supply chain management we can collectively make real differences to environmental performances.”

Further attendees included Sid Bains, Head of Innovation and Technology, Enscite; B C Pradhan, Acting Consul General India at Birmingham; Julia Moore, Manufacturing Resource Centre; Clifford Hill, Regeneration Manager, Birmingham City Council and Ewa Bloch, UK National Contact Point for EU Horizon 2020 along with academics and researchers from Aston and Jadavpur Universities.


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 For further media information contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549 or a.earnshaw@aston.ac.uk.