Why academics need to study the architecture of corporations

Authors: Joshua Newell*, University of Michigan, Benjamin Goldstein, University of Michigan
Topics: Economic Geography, Environment
Keywords: economic geography, supply chains, environment, equity
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

We need to study the corporation in new ways to understand how they wield power and shape geographies. This paper discusses how and why academics should study the supply chains of specific corporations, linking them to environmental and social dynamics across geographies. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have used this approach successfully, issuing reports about corporate activity related to deforestation, sweatshops, and other issues of social concern. Academics, by and large, have studied generic products, industries, and sectors. To verify this, after reviewing approximately 11,000 studies on supply chains, we identified just 27 academic papers that focused on specific corporations. To uncover corporate supply chains, researchers used two distinct methodological approaches: in situ (interviews, surveys, and surveillance) and ex situ (trade data, document analysis, and maps). We detail how to physically link product flows with their environmental impacts, and explores how they affect justice, equity, and welfare.

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