Working with communities and international oil companies (Chevron and Shell) in the Niger Delta using our Mutual Gains Approach has underscored for us the enormous value that such an approach can offer to improving relationships and results for both sets of stakeholders. There are few sectors as challenging as oil and gas, but – as is often the case – with challenges come enormous opportunities for learning and innovation. "A Mutual Gains Approach to Global Supply Chain Management — Why Should Companies Care?" draws on valuable lessons from our work in the extractive sector, shows how they are applicable to consumer goods supply chains, and lays out the business case for applying the Mutual Gains Approach to stakeholder engagement in global supply chains. 

Our experience shows that a Mutual Gains Approach to supply chain governance can provide innovative and high-leverage answers to these questions. This approach is particularly relevant today for companies with large, natural resource-intensive supply chains involving millions of smallholder farmers, producers and workers. In the report, we also outline the bottom line gains that are possible with such an approach. The core ideas of the Mutual Gains Approach are twofold: to build trust by identifying and leveraging opportunities for collaboration where companies, their suppliers and their stakeholders share overlapping interests; and to reduce and mitigate conflict where interests and concerns compete, and outlines the four steps to handle a range of stakeholder engagement contexts and concerns. CBI outlines four simple steps to create an over-arching roadmap to handle a vast range of engagement contexts:

  1. Prepare (requires internal cross-functional team, define risks to the supply chain) the organization for external engagement
  2. Explore issues, options and ways to engage with stakeholders
  3. Construct solutions jointly
  4. Follow through on commitments

In six case examples, "A Mutual Gains Approach to Global Supply Chain Management — Why Should Companies Care?" illustrates how this approach can help address supply chain issues, contain costs, improve input reliability, and create conducive operating environments.

About the Authors

Merrick Hoben

Director, CBI Washington Office / Corporate-Community Engagement Practice

Merrick Hoben is Director of the Consensus Building Institute’s Washington, D.C., Regional Office, Practitioner Associate at the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program, and Faculty Associate at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Merrick helps stakeholders across diverse organizations and sectors — globally and domestically — to develop and implement more effective agreements. As leader of CBI’s Corporate-Community Engagement practice, he specializes in helping business and its stakeholers/rights holders engage one another more effectively, designing and guiding voluntary standard setting processes, supporting collaborative resource management efforts, and leading complex strategic planning initiatives. Merrick has extensive experience with mediation, negotiation, and training in Latin America and the Middle East. His bicultural and bilingual Spanish training and mediation experience enable him to work successfully with diverse populations on sensitive resource, human rights and health issues in Latin America and elsewhere. Merrick is listed on the roster of conflict resolution professionals of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

Mil Niepold

President, The Mara Partners; CBI Senior Consultant

Mil Niepold, President of The Mara Partners, is a Senior Consultant to CBI. In this capacity Mil works with CBI in the International Development, Corporate-Community Engagement and Women and Consensus Building practice areas. Her focus areas include labor and human rights, international organizations and global commodity supply chains (including cocoa, palm oil, oil and gas, among others).