Production Goes Global, Compliance Stays Local: Private Regulation in the Global Electronics Industry
University of Oxford - Said Business School
Richard M. Locke
Brown University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science
Hiram M. Samel
Said Business School, University of Oxford
April 28, 2015
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-1
Watson Institute for International Studies Research Paper No. 2014-13
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 effects of transnational private regulation by studying Hewlett Packard’s (HP) supplier responsibility program. Using analysis of factory 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 power — is the most important predictor of workplace compliance. We then use field research to identify two local institutions that complement transnational private regulation: domestic regulatory authorities and civil society organizations. Although these findings imply limits to private regulation in institutionally poor settings, they also highlight opportunities for productive linkages between transnational actors and local state and society.
Keywords: Transnational governance, globalization, labor standards, private regulation, corporate social responsibility
Date posted: January 3, 2012 ; Last revised: April 28, 2015
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