Do Firms Spend More on Suppliers That Have Environmental Expertise? An Empirical Study of U.S. Manufacturers’ Procurement Spend

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



College of Business


Stakeholders expect focal firms to improve their environmental performance. While firms may be able to accumulate the environmental expertise needed to achieve this goal internally, doing so may require significant time and resource commitments. Alternatively, buyer firms can leverage their suppliers’ existing environmental expertise and gain access to such expertise when they purchase products and services from these suppliers. The purpose of this study was to develop and test theory regarding under what conditions suppliers’ environmental expertise influences a buying firms’ procurement spend with these suppliers. We ground our study in transaction cost economics and agency theories and empirically test our hypotheses using a unique buyer–supplier dyadic data set. We find that buyer firms are willing to increase their overall business spend with suppliers that have strong environmental expertise, particularly when the buyer firms are more profitable and have higher levels of absorptive capacity. However, we find the opposite effect when the buyer firm’s executive compensation is linked to the firm’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. Likewise, we also find that the buyer firm’s environmental concern ratings negatively moderate the relationship between the supplier’s environmental expertise and the buyer’s procurement spend with the supplier.

Publisher's Statement

© 2020 Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Journal of Business Logistics