Developing Technologies for Enhancing Ethical Procurement in Supply Chains

This is an exciting opportunity for a HDR student to be a part of a research community, build knowledge and research training, and engage in an industry collaboration on a real world problem.

The PhD candidate will be part of a research team work and experienced researchers who have established relationships with garment or footwear businesses who source production across a number of countries, and are interested in adopting new and existing technologies to improve their capacity to track and monitor their supply chains.


Labour conditions in garment and agricultural supply chains are amongst the poorest globally, frequently characterised by lower than living wages, dangerous physical conditions and lack of freedom of association (ILO, 2016). However, because of the complexity of supply chains, which cross national boundaries, they are difficult and costly to track. Even those garment brands who are most committed to human rights rarely monitor beyond the first tiers of their supply chains. New and existing technologies can reduce the cost and greatly increase the ease of such tracking, allowing garment brands to work with suppliers to improve their environmental and human rights performance.

Research question

How can new technologies be used to enhance supply chain tracking and ethical procurement in keeping with international norms of human rights due diligence?

Strategic Need

The project aligns with the Global Business and Innovation priority area of Innovation governance and performance: It considers the intersection of technology, innovation and governance systems. The proposed study has the potential to significantly improve the working and environmental conditions under which garment production occurs globally. Because of the strong purchasing and governance power that brands wield, their capacity to track, monitor and improve the ethics of production is a key factor in improving the human rights and environmental impact of garment production globally. The project also aligns to the Social Change priority areas of transformations in digital society and economy and transformations in work. The project will thus advance RMIT's global reputation as a leader in responsible business and applied technology.

Proposed postgraduate research program

  • School: School of Management
  • Course code: DR204
  • Program name: PhD Management


Our aim is to foster partnerships with two to four garment, footwear and agricultural businesses who:

  • source production across a number of countries, with strong purchasing power within supply chains (herein ‘garment brands’), and
  • are interested in adopting new technologies to improve their capacity to track and monitor their supply chains beyond the first tier.

Relations are being explored with five possible candidates for linkage partnerships. It is expected the project will be funded externally. The CI’s are experts in mapping supply chains. Together with other colleagues, they applied for and received a linkage grant in 2010 (which began in 2011) which has enjoyed significant impacts (Corporate Accountability Research, 2017). The high reputation of the CIs will increase the likelihood that garment brands will partner with them. Garment brands have already expressed an interest in becoming partners in the project.

Value and duration

A stipend of $32,000 per year over the duration of three years.

Number of scholarships available



To be considered for scholarship you must hold, or be currently completing either:

  • Master by research
  • Master by coursework with a significant research component graded as high distinction, or equivalent
  • Honours degree achieving first class honours
  • 4 year bachelor degree achieving a GPA of 4 or equivalent (80% or above).

If you do not hold one of the above qualifications you will only be considered for scholarship if you have previous peer reviewed publications or significant research experience.

Please make sure that you check the individual eligibility requirements of these scholarships prior to submitting your application.

It is also important to note that the scholarship rounds are highly competitive and satisfying the eligibility requirements does not guarantee a successful outcome. When a scholarship round closes all applications are received are ranked in order of merit. This process takes five to six weeks to complete. Applicants are typically advised of the outcome of a scholarship round five to six weeks after the round closes for applications.

How to apply

  • Send a cover letter of not more than one page addressing the required and preferred skills and qualifications, your curriculum vitae and an example of your writing on a topic related to the research to and
  • References are not required. Please provide the names of two referees that can be contacted to verify your capacity to research independently and your knowledge of the topic.
  • Example of writing: Essays submitted for assessment are fine. Published articles/reports are preferred. Co-authored pieces will not be accepted. Your writing sample should be 2500 words or longer to provide a sufficient example of the quality of your writing and research.

Open date

Applications are open until 4 May 2018. International applicants must have an offer of place prior to applying for a scholarship and are encouraged to submit an admission application by 27 April 2018.

Terms and conditions

See the research scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 327KB) for more information.


Annie Delaney

Shelley Marshall