Sustainability in the Leather Industry: Exploring the relationship between Social Sustainability Drivers, Practices and Indicators

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Although the importance of sustainability is being increasingly recognised by business, in the leather industry the focus has been on environmental sustainability rather than the social aspect. This research has purposely looked to explore that gap by investigating the social sustainability drivers, their relationship with social sustainability practices and the associated indicators in the leather supply chain through the stakeholder and institutional theory lens.

A qualitative methodology is applied in which primary and secondary data is used to achieve the study's aim and objectives in the context of the European leather supply chain. Data is collected and analysed based on the key themes developed in the initial conceptual framework and literature review. A within cases and across cases analysis is performed to explain key findings to validate and refine the initial conceptual framework to a theoretical framework for a socially sustainable supply chain.

The study's key finding presents that sustainability drivers can assist in explaining the importance of implementing social sustainability practices towards desired business goals. Likewise, leather supply chain actors are proven to have distinct supplier development roles towards a socially sustainable supply chain and are largely collaborative instead of competitive. Due to the highly collaborative nature of leather supply chain actors, social sustainability practices implemented and indicators for measurement are similar thereby providing an opportunity for developing consensus assessment tools in the industry.

The study proposes a framework that provides managers with a stepwise guide to integrate social sustainability into short- and longterm business goals. The study contributes to theory by providing evidence of the applicability of institutional and stakeholder theory to social sustainability studies. The research outcomes provide extensive implications for theory and practice.
Date of AwardMay 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKathleen Mortimer (Supervisor) & Will Wise (Supervisor)


  • Leather Industry
  • Sustainability
  • Social Sustainability
  • Drivers
  • Indicators
  • Practices
  • Supply Chain

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