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Beyond brokering: Sourcing agents, boundary work, and working conditions in global supply chains

Soundararajan, Vivek, Khan, Zaheer, Tarba, Shlomo Yedidia (2018) Beyond brokering: Sourcing agents, boundary work, and working conditions in global supply chains. Human Relations, 71 (4). pp. 481-509. ISSN 0018-7267. E-ISSN 1741-282X. (doi:10.1177/0018726716684200) (KAR id:58399)


The role that sourcing agents, autonomous peripheral actors located in developing economies, play in the governance of working conditions in global supply chains has been greatly underexplored in the literature. The present paper reports on an in-depth qualitative study that examined the boundary work of sourcing agents aimed at dismantling or bridging the boundaries that affect the interaction between buyers and suppliers, in order to facilitate development and implementation of meaningful working conditions or social relations at work. We identify four types of boundary work that sourcing agents used to manage combinations of accommodative and non-accommodative buyers and suppliers in order to work through boundaries created by buyer’s liability of foreignness: reinforcing, flexing (type 1 and 2), and restoring. We also found four essential conditions for a sourcing agent to become an effective boundary-spanner in practice: acquiring knowledge about the relevant fields and actors, gaining legitimacy in the relevant fields and in the opinion of the parties involved, effectively translating the expectations of each party to the other, and benefiting from satisfying incentives. We contribute to the literature on governance for working conditions in global supply chains, boundary theory, and liability of foreignness.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0018726716684200
Uncontrolled keywords: Boundary spanners, garment industry, global supply chains, GSC, India, liability of foreignness, LOF, social relations, sourcing agents, working conditions
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and International Business
Depositing User: Zaheer Khan
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2016 12:41 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 19:58 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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