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Finance: The Discreet RegulatorIsabelle Huault and Christelle Richard (eds.), 2012: Finance: The Discreet Regulator: How Financial Activities Shape and Transform the World. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

The power of financial markets and financial actors over economies and societies is as hard to deny as it is to conclusively prove. From subprime mortgages to Greek debts to microloans, different people and different sectors all feel it in their own ways. “Financialisation” (Epstein, Krippner), “finance-led growth regime” (Boyer), “financial market capitalism” (Windolf) represent only some of the attempts to come to grips with this sea change; but none have provided decisive answers as to the “why” and “how”.

A new book proposes seeing finance (in the tradition of the French “Régulation School”) as a type of regulator – a subtle, insidious one. “Finance: The Discreet Regulator: How Financial Activities Shape and Transform the World” collects perspectives on how “financial markets are the seat of regulatory processes initiated and developed by core-capitalist financial institutions such as banks and audit firms”. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week consumers around world learned about the place our mobile phones, ipods, iPads and PlayStations are produced: In production facilities in China, owned by a Taiwanese company called Foxconn, which produces for brands such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Dell. Consumers learned that Foxconn is the biggest producer of electronic goods, employs over 400.000 workers in the Shenzhen province, 11 workers committed suicide this year. Consumers also learned that the official annual suicide rate in China is 13 per 100,000 workers. And Terry Gou, the founder of Foxconn recapitulates that his factory is below the official norm.

The rising protest inside China but also abroad which followed these tragic incidents, reveal a lot about the new dynamics in the fight for improvements of working conditions in Chinese factories: a dynamic which combines strong local critique, which does not leave the government untouched, with international outrage against the major customers.

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A lot of people – labor groups as well as compliance people – talk about empowering workers. In the Chinese context this often means educating people about their rights. This is usually done by training programmes. These training programmes have also become part of the demands of NGOs as well as company CSR rating agencies in Europe and the US, and therefore became the next step in the labour supply chain management agenda.

Whereas no big differentiations are made between training programmes, a whole industry is emerging in China, where consulting companies compete with buying companies’ own compliance programme and NGOs, offering a variety of different services. A recent study of the Sino-German Social Responsibility Project on training providers evaluated 29 providers, including nine international providers. Read the rest of this entry »

As a newcomer to blogging who recently learned that series are particularly “in”,  I decided to start my own series as well. I’m travelling China right now as a researcher, trying to better understand what all the people I’ve talked to in Germany mean by managing labor issues in the supply chain, compliance systems, training arrangements, etc.; but also seeking to understand how labour groups deal with the issue, form their strategies or give up strategising around it.

I’ll share my impressions here, so forthcoming posts in the series will be about compliance management, worker training, management training and how labor groups try to deal with this issues (spoiler: there is a big difference between Hong-Kong-based and mainland-China-based, and you often simply cannot name it, activism).

I’m talking to all kinds of people here in China: consultants, compliance managers, labor NGOs; I’ve taken part in an audit, a manager and a worker training.  As this is China I’m writing about, the first thing people tell you is: There is always more than one truth in China…

How to become a compliance manager in one day

Auditing has become an important business in labour supply chain management. Seminars and training courses are offered all over the world on how to become a successful auditor. But, actually, it doesn’t take you more than a day. It means having an open eye for obvious problems which are often so similar that you almost don’t need to go into the factory to know about them. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
April 2017
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