Improving Sustainable Procurement: The Role of Information Systems

Improving Sustainable Procurement: The Role of Information Systems

Oihab Allal-Chérif (BEM Bordeaux Management School, France)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/jesma.2012010103


Sustainability has become a central corporate concern and can determine a company’s success. The purchasing function is crucial to a firm’s sustainability policy. It drives a company’s sourcing activities and connects its internal functions to external suppliers and providers. Sustainable purchasing plays a key role in effecting a global strategy, requiring high-performance tools. Information systems can provide support services and stimulate and disseminate sustainable purchasing policies. This article combines a literature review with a qualitative study to illustrate how information systems contribute to corporate sustainable purchasing policies. Using an exploratory approach and constructivist positioning, a business-forecasting method is implemented to suggest a possible sustainable purchasing management path and a new role for information systems. A scenario is co-constructed from the responses of 12 purchasing function experts to questions about their practices and experiences, the effects of the rising wave of environmentalism, and the problems in implementing and optimizing information systems.
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2. Theoretical Foundations: Information Systems Serving The Sustainable Purchasing Function

Purchasing management and information system management play highly strategic roles in modern companies, particularly in large multinationals because purchasing often accounts for more than half the total revenues and constitutes a main source of competitive advantage (Murtaza, Gupta, & Carroll, 2004). Information systems can be used as tactical piloting tools enabling an optimization of operational management, information flows, resource allocation, competitive and technological watching, knowledge management and sharing, internal and external collaboration, and decisional analysis (Choi & Suh, 2005). Thus, associating these two functions (IS and purchasing) creates a powerful internal coalition capable of developing processes that will advance the cause of sustainability in its economic, ecological, and social dimensions (Allal-Chérif & Favier, 2008).

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