A World After Climate Change and Culture-Shift

Type Book Section - Why do corporate codes of conduct fail? Women workers and clothing supply chains in Vietnam
Title A World After Climate Change and Culture-Shift
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Publisher Springer
URL http://eprints.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/1433/1/GSP-_final_draft_2012.pdf
Despite criticisms of their derivation and implementation, corporate codes of conduct (CoCs)
continue to dominate debates on Corporate Social Responsibility and the informal regulation
of worker exploitation and abuse by ‘sweatshops’ supplying northern multinational
corporations (MNCs). Through analytical interrogation of existing literature and empirical
evidence from Vietnamese case studies, two propositions are made to clarify the poor
performance of CoCs. It is argued, firstly, that the extent of the control of MNCs over their
subcontracting suppliers is misconceived and overestimated because supply chains function
more like networks than the hierarchies assumed by ‘principal-agent’ preconceptions.
Conceptualizing such relationships instead as networks of conflicting political and economic
imperatives amongst various sets of actors generates a second proposition derived from our
case studies. The factory workers, their subcontractor employers, intermediary vendors and
even the MNCs seeking CoC commitments, have convergent interests in violating key aspects
of the codes and deceiving their auditors. The analysis evaluates the residual value of CoCs
in light of these constraints and the options for improving labour regulation, with particular
reference to the plight of disadvantaged women workers.

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