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Do codes of conduct improve worker rights in supply chains?: A study of Fair Wear Foundation
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
2015 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 107, 31-40 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The rise of private regulation of sustainability in global production networks has led to intensive debates about the impact of this regulation at the point of production. Yet, few empirical studies have systematically examined this impact in practice. Based on multiple factory audits of 43 garment factories conducted by the multi-stakeholder initiative Fair Wear Foundation, we show that codes of conduct improve (although marginally) worker rights on an overall level but that few significant results are found for specific worker rights. Our findings also lend support to the widespread argument that codes have uneven impact. Furthermore, we show that even rigorous multi-stakeholder factory audits seldom are able to identify process rights violations (such as those affecting freedom of association and discrimination), and that auditing is thus is more fundamentally flawed than assumed in previous research. Given companies' extensive investments in private regulation of worker rights, the findings have important implications for both scholars and managers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015. Vol. 107, 31-40 p.
Keyword [en]
Code of conduct, Garment, Private regulation, Supply chain, Value chain, Worker rights
National Category
Environmental Management Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176942DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.08.096ISI: 000363071000004ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84942990458OAI: diva2:882321

QC 20151214

Available from: 2015-12-14 Created: 2015-11-13 Last updated: 2016-05-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Trying to secure decent working conditions: Do corporate social responsibility audits improve risk management in global garment supply chains?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trying to secure decent working conditions: Do corporate social responsibility audits improve risk management in global garment supply chains?
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The outsourcing of the manufacturing of garments to regions with lower production costs has raised concerns over labor rights violations. Retailers and brands have responded to this by introducing codes of conduct outlining minimum requirements for working conditions at their suppliers. Has companies’ work with codes of conduct within the voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) framework managed to secure good working conditions, and if not, to drive improvements at the factory level?  This thesis examines the question empirically by analyzing code of conduct audits of garment factories conducted by Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), an independent non-profit multi-stakeholder organization. The data consist of audits of 229 sewing factories in Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Africa that supply European garment brands. Paper I analyses the non-compliances listed in the audit reports and whether factories audited several times by FWF improve over time. The results show that even rigorous multi-stakeholder factory audits have problems identifying violations of freedom of association and harassment of workers. Improvement over time could be seen between audits. However, these improvements were moderate, i.e. compliance increased by only 7–15% between audits.  Paper II examines chemical safety in the garment factories, an area where violations should be easy to identify and improvements are likely to be seen. The results show that 43% of the suppliers received remarks on chemical safety at the first audit. A model containing factors thought to be associated with better compliance was constructed including the number of previous audits, characteristics of the suppliers, and characteristics of the relationship between the brands and suppliers. The only statistically significant finding from this was that among factories audited ten or more times was there a clear increase in the number of factories receiving no remarks on chemical safety.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 39 p.
Theses in Risk and Safety from the Division of Philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1654-627X
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186548 (URN)978-91-7729-029-2 (ISBN)
2016-06-02, K361, Brinellvägen 32, 4tr, KTH-Campus, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)

QC 20160513

Available from: 2016-05-13 Created: 2016-05-13 Last updated: 2016-05-18Bibliographically approved

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