In our class, we had many discussions about a for-profit company's role in social and environmental accountability as well as sustainable resources. Because of public demand and an understanding that future resources means future profits, the business world is paying more attention to this topic. It was interesting to read about how the whole supply chain (even the distant second cousin supplier) will take initiative to improve the quality of the product or ensure a sustainable future, like in this food safety example (link) or this response to a disaster (link).
As discussed in the linked article about the disaster, more companies are moving to just-in-time distribution, meaning they keep little inventory on hand in order to reduce waste and overhead cost of keeping a safety stock. In order to be successful in this, companies must have a vast network of trusted suppliers, and sometimes parallel suppliers providing the same cog in your product to hedge risk. This network is often outsourced overseas, to the disappointment of many. But Thomas Friedman, author of the book The World is Flat, has found that these international supplier networks improve international standards of living, require trust and commitment from the entire chain, and thus keep the countries of these networked countries out of war. He calls it, in his book, the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention and says this: