Interface’s Net-Works Program: A New Approach to Creating Social Value through Sustainable Sourcing (pdf abstract)

Purchase the full report on GlobaLens (Case study # 1-429-374)– published 02/2014, 20 pages.
Developed by: Makely Lyon (’14), Javier Rivera (’14), Lauren V. Smith, and Pete Wangwongwiroj under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman

DESCRIPTION: The story of the Net-Works™ program is that of an environmental sustainability leader—Interface, Inc.—grappling with the challenges of incorporating social sustainability into corporate practices via its supply chain. Net-Works illustrates the potential and the challenges companies face in using sourcing as a component of their sustainability strategy. Further, the process of designing and scaling the Net-Works program highlights the unique challenges of seeking to have social impact through business, as Interface must build a program from the ground up in remote and economically fragile communities. To succeed, Miriam and her team must figure out how to scale the model in order to make it truly impactful, both as an economic development model and as a viable materials-sourcing stream for the business. This case was written by graduate students Makely Lyon (’14), Javier Rivera (’14), Lauren V. Smith, and Pete Wangwongwiroj under the supervision of Professor Andrew Hoffman at the University of Michigan.


    After reading and discussing this case, students will be able to:

  • Identify and discuss the challenges to developing and scaling a sustainable sourcing program, including, e.g., financial commitment, social impact, and partnerships.
  • Debate the boundaries of the role of a company in pursuing social impact through its business.
  • Discuss the differences between running social impact programs and using purchasing power to drive social impact investments of others.