Digital technology adoption for modern slavery risk mitigation in supply chains: An institutional perspective

Mengqi Jiang, Lujie Chen*, Constantin Blome, Fu Jia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tens of millions of people worldwide – at a minimum – are victims of modern slavery (MS), including various forms of human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor. In the current digitization era, digital technology may be used to recruit or control MS victims, but it also has the potential to mitigate MS risks in supply chains. However, although scholars have increasingly focused on this social issue, the critical role of digital technology in MS risk mitigation remains unclear. This research aims to identify which digital technologies are adopted by focal firms to mitigate MS risks and explore how institutional changes affect technology adoption. We conducted a qualitative secondary data analysis by performing content analysis on MS statements for financial years from 2017 to 2021 issued by the top 50 firms selected from the Fortune Global 500 list. According to our coding results, we identified seven types of digital technology adopted by focal firms and key actors involved in digital technology adoption in the MS context to form an MS risk mitigation ecosystem. Based on the socio-technical perspective and institutional theory, we further proposed a conceptual framework to link the institutional pressures to digital technology adoption. We found that normative pressures from NGOs tend to promote high-complexity technology, whereas coercive pressures from governments tend to tolerate low-complexity technology. Mimetic pressures from competitors tend to promote low-complexity technology adoption. In this context, firms respond to government regulations more positively than to NGO initiatives. This paper is the first to explore digital technology adoption as a way of mitigating MS risks and to propose a conceptual framework to inspire managers, policy makers and other stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122595
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Volume192
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Digital technology
  • Modern slavery
  • Risk detection
  • Risk prevention
  • Supply chain risk management

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