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Production Goes Global, Standards Stay Local: Private Regulation in the Global Electronics Industry


Greg Distelhorst


University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Richard M. Locke


Brown University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Timea Pal


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Hiram M. Samel


Said Business School, University of Oxford

August 14, 2014

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-1
Watson Institute for International Studies Research Paper No. 2014-13

Abstract:     
Concerns about poor working conditions in global supply chains have led to private initiatives that seek to regulate labor practices in developing countries. But how effective are these regulatory programs? We investigate the impact of private regulation by studying Hewlett Packard’s (HP) supplier responsibility program. Utilizing quantitative and qualitative analysis of audit records, interviews with buyer and supplier management, and field research at production facilities across seven countries, we find that national context — not repeated audits, capability building, or supply chain governance — is the most important predictor of divergent workplace outcomes. Field research at factories shows that this effect is driven in part by interaction between private regulation and domestic regulatory and civil society institutions. Although the finding that standards stay local implies limits to private regulation in institutionally poor settings, it also highlights opportunities for productive linkages to local state and society.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

Keywords: Transnational governance, globalization, labor standards, regulation, corporate social responsibility

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Date posted: January 3, 2012 ; Last revised: September 3, 2014

Suggested Citation

Distelhorst, Greg and Locke, Richard M. and Pal, Timea and Samel, Hiram M., Production Goes Global, Standards Stay Local: Private Regulation in the Global Electronics Industry (August 14, 2014). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-1; Watson Institute for International Studies Research Paper No. 2014-13. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1978908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1978908

Contact Information

Greg Distelhorst (Contact Author)
University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )
105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6
Canada
HOME PAGE: http://www.gregdistelhorst.com
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Richard M. Locke
Brown University ( email )
111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States
(401) 863-3596 (Phone)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
Timea Pal
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Hiram M. Samel
Said Business School, University of Oxford ( email )
HOME PAGE: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/community/people/hiram-samel
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