Unilateral Standards for Social Responsibility: Corporations as Social Watchdogs?

19 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2011

See all articles by Laura J. Spence

Laura J. Spence

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Michael Bourlakis

Brunel University London - Brunel Business School

Date Written: August 1, 2009

Abstract

This paper focuses on the social dynamics of unilaterally determined social responsibility standards. These are put in the context of large customers in a supply chain determining company-specific standards, compliance with which is then a requirement for suppliers. We draw a brief comparison between multilaterally derived standards (such as those determined by the International Standards Organization) and unilaterally derived standards. Notably, there is an important difference stemming from the level of involvement and degree of control which the unilateral standard-setter has throughout the standard creation and implementation process. Indeed, we claim that the unilateral standard-setter which requires supplier compliance acts as regulator, monitor, and applier of sanctions to those supplier organizations. Ultimately, this puts the large corporation in the role of a Corporate Social Watchdog. In closing the paper we consider a future research agenda for this new concept.

Keywords: Unilateral Standards, Corporate Social Responsibility, Supply Chain, Corporate Social Watchdog

Suggested Citation

Spence, Laura J. and Bourlakis, Michael, Unilateral Standards for Social Responsibility: Corporations as Social Watchdogs? (August 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1871783 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1871783

Laura J. Spence (Contact Author)

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

Egham
Surrey, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

Michael Bourlakis

Brunel University London - Brunel Business School ( email )

Kingston Lane
Eastern Gateway Building
Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH
United Kingdom

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