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.
Keywords: legitimation theory; CSR reporting; supply chain reporting; social audit