Corporate Social Responsibility in Global Value Chains: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?

Topics: Value chain, Supply chain, International Labour Organization Pages: 13 (9410 words) Published: November 16, 2014
J Bus Ethics (2014) 123:11–22
DOI 10.1007/s10551-013-1796-x

Corporate Social Responsibility in Global Value Chains: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?
Peter Lund-Thomsen • Adam Lindgreen

Received: 28 June 2013 / Accepted: 2 July 2013 / Published online: 10 July 2013 Ó Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Abstract We outline the drivers, main features, and
conceptual underpinnings of the compliance paradigm. We
then use a similar structure to investigate the drivers, main features, and conceptual underpinnings of the cooperative
paradigm for working with CSR in global value chains. We
argue that the measures proposed in the new cooperation
paradigm are unlikely to alter power relationships in global value chains and bring about sustained improvements in
workers’ conditions in developing country export industries. After that, we provide a critical appraisal of the potential and limits of the cooperative paradigm, we
summarize our findings, and we outline avenues for
research: purchasing practices and labor standard noncompliance, CSR capacity building among local suppliers, and improved CSR monitoring by local resources in the
developing world.
Keywords Compliance paradigm Á Cooperative
paradigm Á Corporate social responsibility Á
Global value chains

P. Lund-Thomsen
Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, Copenhagen
Business School, Porcelænshaven 18A, 2000 Frederiksberg,
Denmark
e-mail: plt.ikl@cbs.dk
A. Lindgreen (&)
Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Aberconway
Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU, UK
e-mail: LindgreenA@cardiff.ac.uk

Introduction
On Sept 11, 2012, more than 300 workers died in a fire in
the Ali garment factory in the commercial hub of Karachi,
Pakistan. Workers were burned alive, succumbed to smoke
inhalation, or died after trying to jump from the top floors of the factory building to escape the fire. Many of the
windows and exit doors had been blocked by factory
managers, preventing workers from escaping the blaze
(Walsh and Greenhouse 2012). Shortly before the fire
broke out, the factory complex also had been certified with
a SA8000 label—a seal of legitimacy for factories that
comply with international labor standards (AFL-CIO
2013). In Nov 2012, another 112 workers died in a factory
fire in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, when they found
themselves trapped on the upper floors of a factory and the
fire spread from the bottom to the top floors. This factory
supplied Wal-Mart and Sears, both of which (along with
other international retailers) claimed they had not been
aware that their products were being produced in the Dhaka
factory, despite the extensive social and environmental
auditing programs they had in place for their suppliers
(Yardley 2012).
Such recent events, including the massive collapse of
Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory in May 2013 that killed
more than 1,100 workers, have sparked renewed concerns
about the lack of national labor regulations and the inadequacy of existing private social auditing schemes that seek to ensure a basic level of safety and decent work conditions for laborers in export-oriented industries located in developing countries (Locke 2013). In this article, we seek to advance the debate over private social auditing schemes in

global value chains. We trace the development of social
auditing back to the early 1990s, when international
retailers and supermarkets came under public scrutiny for

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their sourcing practices, after revelations that workers in
developing countries were laboring under highly exploitative conditions. Private social auditing—also known as the compliance model—emerged in response to these
criticisms. However, during the 2000s and early 2010s,
impact assessments of corporate codes of conducts have
shown that social auditing schemes (or corporate codes of
conduct) at best have brought about limited improvements
in workers’ conditions,...

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