Complements or Substitutes? Private Codes, State Regulation and the Improvement of Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains
50 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2012 Last revised: 12 Jul 2012
Date Written: February 1, 2012
Recent research on regulation and governance suggests that a mixture of public and private interventions is necessary to improve working conditions and environmental standards within global supply chains. Yet, less attention has been directed to how these (potentially) complementary forms of regulation might interact together. The form of these interactions are investigated through a contextualized comparison of suppliers producing for Hewlett Packard, one the world’s leading global electronics firms. Using a unique dataset describing Hewlett Packard’s supplier audits over time, coupled with qualitative fieldwork at a matched pair of suppliers in Mexico and the Czech Republic, this study shows how private and public regulation can interact in different ways – sometimes as complements; other times as substitutes – depending upon both the national contexts and the specific issues being addressed. The paper closes with a discussion of the theoretical implications of these findings.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation