Cross-sector collaborations in global supply chains as an opportunity structure : How NGOs promote corporate sustainability in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationJournal of International Business Studies
Online published7 Sept 2023
Publication statusOnline published - 7 Sept 2023


This paper presents new theory and evidence on how cross-border, cross-sector collaborations affect the global diffusion of sustainable practices. By highlighting the structural characteristics of global supply chains, we study how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) constrained by autocratic political regimes exploit the collaborative opportunities presented by foreign multinational enterprises (MNEs) to enhance local firms’ sustainability performance. Drawing on social movement and resource dependence theories, we propose that global supply chains that tie MNEs to their local partners offer these NGOs a favorable opportunity structure to gain leverage over local firms by establishing MNE–NGO collaborations. This two-step form of leverage helps NGOs increase their influence and legitimacy to facilitate the adoption of sustainable practices by local firms within the MNEs’ global supply-chain networks. Yet, this mediated stakeholder effect decreases when governmentally produced structural conditions reduce the synergistic potential of this opportunity structure: greater priority given to environmental protection by governments substitutes for MNE–NGO collaborations. To test our theory, we examine the relationship between Chinese NGOs’ collaborations with 167 MNEs across 24 countries and these MNEs’ local green supply-chain ratings in the period 2014–2020. This study contributes to the literature on social movements, MNE–NGO collaborations, and sustainability in global supply chains. © 2023 Academy of International Business All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • MNE–NGO collaborations, corporate sustainability, global supply chains, social movements, opportunity structures, power and influence, autocratic contexts, China