Research Symposium on “Sustainability in the Era of Global Value Chains” at Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (April 25, 2019)
On April 25, 2019 Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS) Waseda University Research Institute for Environmental Economics and Management co-hosed a research symposium on “Sustainability in the Era of Global Value Chains.” Today, global value chains are an increasingly prominent feature of global business and the economy. After decades of massive outsourcing decisions, supply chains now account for the major share of value added. Their performance directly determine the success of companies as well as national and even regional economies. Further, suppliers, and their suppliers upstream, are no longer simply providers of material. They produce major parts of the final product, they innovate, the ensure product quality, they determine resilience, they limit or enhance profitability, and they play a considerable role for a company’s reputation. Governments and society put increasing pressure on companies, holding them responsible for activities of suppliers and sub-suppliers.
This WIAS event featured presentations from three scholars working on various dimensions related to sustainability in contemporary global value chains. The first presentation, from Associate Professor Tatyana Chesnokova of WIAS, looked at the issue of supply chains from the perspective of the very top of the supply chain—natural resource sourcing. Professor Chesnokova discussed her recent research into why governments sign agreements to allow fishermen from other countries to fish in national waters. The second presentation, by Satoshi Inomata (Chief Senior Researcher, Inter-disciplinary Studies Center, IDE-JETRO) looked into how the diffusion of value creating activities globally influences where value is created and some of the implications for business and government in a world of such complicated value chains. The final presentation was made by Professor Joerg Hofstetter (Associate Professor for Supply Chain Management, KEDGE Business School and President of the International Forum on Sustainable Value Chains). Professor Hofstetter discussed some of the challenges to sustainable business practices stemming from the fact that most businesses today do not really know who is supplying the inputs to their products and services.
Each presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session where the 32 faculty and students in attendance were able to gain deeper insights into the material through interacting with the presenters. Finally, the symposium closed with a panel discussion where the three presenters discussed the common threads linking their unique perspectives on value chains to the broader challenges of increasing sustainability in a world of increasingly complex sourcing practices.
Overall, by bringing together three unique perspectives on an issue of critical importance to modern business, economics and environment, the event made a successful contribution to the WIAS mission to promote interdisciplinary research.