The Fine Jewellery Industry: Corporate Responsibility Challenges and Institutional Forces Facing SMEs

Marylyn Carrigan, Morven Mceachern, Caroline Moraes, Carmela Bosangit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


There has been limited coverage of the corporate responsibility (CR) practices of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the mainstream CR literature. Furthermore, there has been no systematic analysis of the responsibilities of the high value jewellery industry and jewellery SMEs in particular. This study explores the potential for harm and value creation by individual stakeholders in fine jewellery production. Using the harm chain and institutional theory to frame our investigation, we seek to understand how small businesses within the fine jewellery industry respond to the economic, social and environmental challenges associated with responsible jewellery production, and to investigate how they perceive and negotiate the tensions between responsibility and the resistance derived from the operational norms of secrecy and autonomy within the industry. Our exploratory research provides illustrative examples of how complex harm networks operate within and across the fine jewellery industry, and demonstrates the inter-relationships that exist across the different stages of the fine jewellery harm chain. Findings suggest that institutional forces are coalescing towards a more responsible agenda for the fine jewellery industry. Moreover, while CR is a tool to disrupt harmful institutional norms and practices within such an industry, it requires the co-creation of new transformative business models and multi-stakeholder involvement including firms (SMEs and MNEs), trade associations, non-governmental organisations and consumers. Solutions include national and international legislation, price adjusted certification routes for small firms, harmonisation of industry CR standards to reduce overlap in certification and regulation and gem and precious metal “track and trace” schemes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-699
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Early online date18 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


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