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Dhaka Savar Building Collapse” by rijans, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In the article “’We Can’t Compete on Human Rights’: Creating Market-Protected Spaces to Institutionalize the Emerging Logic of Responsible Management“, which has just come out at the Academy of Management Journal, Nora Lohmeyer, Sarah Ashwin and myself argue that the protection of labor and environmental standards in the global economy relies on the construction of “market-protected spaces”, institutionally bound spaces that suspend the dominance of the market logic on selected issues based on a binding regulatory infrastructure that allows prioritizing responsible management practices. This conclusion is based on years-long research on the consequences of the deadly Rana Plaza accident in Bangladesh in which thousands of garment workers were killed or injured. Our research shows that voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are not enough to address systemic, complex social or environmental problems in the global economy. We agree with De Bakker, Matten, Spence, and Wickert (2020), who

see an urgent need to address an “elephant in the room” of corporate social responsibility (CSR) research: the systemic constraints exerted by the current economic paradigm that might not be reconcilable with responsible business conduct.

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It is assumed that the rise of CSR and the private regulation of labor rights in global supply chains help to improve working conditions in supplying factories. Incidences such as factory burning in Bangladeshis garment industry (one of which killed more than 1100 people) or suicides in China’s electronic industry seem to contradict such assumptions. But also scientific research portrays mixed results on how monitoring and certification impacts working conditions inside factories. This article takes a slightly different approach by asking on how the rise of CSR influences the development of domestic labor rights organizations in the People’s Republic of China. 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.
September 2022
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