Purpose – This conceptual paper aims to explore the legitimating process of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting in relation to supply chain management. The paper introduces a framework for the holistic evaluation of entire supply chain CSR reporting including the use of social audits.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on a review of CSR reporting literature and the role of CSR reporting as a legitimation tool of organisations that operate in distinct supply chains. The theoretical lens of three perspectives of legitimation; structural-functionalist; social constructionist; and hegemonic, are used to assess the drivers behind organisations in a supply chain to report CSR performance and management consistently and interdependently.
Findings – The development and implementation of the framework for evaluating the CSR reporting of the entire supply chain, which includes social auditing, would be a valuable legitimation tool for organisations in a supply chain and also for the industry within which these organisations operate.
Practical implications/limitations – This paper provides insights into the use of social audits as a legitimation tool for supply chains as a whole and organisations within the supply chain.
Originality/value – This interdisciplinary concept paper contributes to both the social and environmental accounting literature and the supply chain management literature.