• Clima; Gestão Empresarial

Research Shows Customers Positively Influence Business Environmental Practices

06.05.2024

Açaí production in the Brazilian Amazon presents significant social and environmental challenges. The expansion of its cultivation in elevated areas has resulted in environmental impacts such as deforestation and water withdrawal from rivers. In addition, harvesting is a dangerous activity, often involving child labor and health risks to harvesters. This production is vital to riverine communities, directly supporting 300,000 people and involving 54 municipalities in the supply chain.

In order to analyze the impact of customer pressures and government regulations on the implementation of social and environmental practices in the certification of organic agricultural products, researchers from the São Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP), Susana Pereira and Maciel M. Queiroz, together with Cyntia Martins, Marcia Santiago Scarpin and Mariana Cavalcante, conducted a study published in Benchmarking: An International Journal.

To address these challenges, companies are working with suppliers to implement social and environmental practices and ensure compliance with government regulations. Sustainable supply chain management is essential, considering the three pillars: social, environmental and financial performance. To this end, certification is an important tool in the process, guiding companies towards sustainable practices and providing consumers with confidence about suppliers' adherence to these practices. In this context, customer pressure ends up playing a crucial role, influencing companies' choices and contributing to the better operational performance of those that implement appropriate environmental practices.

The survey was carried out through a multiple-choice questionnaire with 206 açaí suppliers in the Brazilian Amazon who were in the process of certification or already certified. A five-point scale ranging from 1 ('strongly disagree') to 5 ('strongly agree') was used and the questionnaire addressed environmental and social practices, customer pressures, government regulations and operational performance. The surveys were conducted in person due to the low level of education of the interviewees and the fact that they are located in riverside communities far from large cities. The respondents to this survey were mainly small agroextractive producers over 50 years of age. It should be noted that the chain in question involves more experienced producers with a low level of education.

The study identified that government regulations and certification play crucial roles in the promotion of social and environmental practices by companies. In emerging economies like Brazil, when the government does not support sustainable policies, companies take on this role by integrating sustainable practices into their supply chain. The certification not only contributes to agricultural sustainability and fair trade, but also reflects the company's values in sustainability.

In conclusion, focal companies play a key role as financiers and collaborators, establishing close relationships with producers and facilitating access to niche markets. The survey also showed that customer pressure has a positive influence on companies' social and environmental practices. In addition, organic certification acts as a moderator, strengthening the relationship between customer pressure and the implementation of environmental practices. These results underscore the importance of government policies and incentives that promote organic certification practices and sustainability.

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