Analyzing Base-of-the-Pyramid Research from a (Sustainable) Supply Chain Perspective

Journal of Business Ethics 155 (3):663-686 (2019)
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Research on the base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) approach and the associated business case for deprived participants in informal markets now appears frequently in a range of business ethics and management-related journals. The present analysis of how supply chain management (SCM) and sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) concepts are habitually used in base-of-the-pyramid research serves to strengthen the theoretical foundation of BoP research by addressing the related business case. Based on a content analysis of BoP papers published in English-speaking peer-reviewed journals between 2000 and 2014 from the Web of Science database, this literature review comprehends existing research in the context of established SCM and SSCM frameworks, using both frequency and contingency analyses. The frequency analysis indicates that supply chain management and sustainable supply chain management [(S)SCM] constructs regularly discussed in the BoP literature include supplier integration, strategic purchasing, decommoditization, long-term relationship and enhanced communication among supply chain actors. The identified contingencies reflect linkages between BoP research and (S)SCM constructs. The highest number of links was found between the SCM constructs of strategic purchasing and long-term relationship and the SSCM constructs of supplier integration and communication and coordination with suppliers. These can be regarded as the most crucial (S)SCM constructs in the BoP business environment. This analysis facilitates the development of future research propositions at this intersection, including the use of tools from (S)SCM theories to evaluate BoP propositions and projects. Granted the limited range of BoP-related papers analyzed, the findings provide a coherent understanding of (S)SCM practices crucial to the functioning of BoP markets and why they matter, so contributing to the related ethical rationale. These findings will be of use to researchers and practitioners alike for the formulation of business development strategies and their subsequent implementation in informal market economies.



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