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

See all articles by Richard Locke

Richard Locke

Brown University

Ben A. Rissing

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Timea Pal

European University Institute

Date Written: February 1, 2012

Abstract

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

Locke, Richard and Rissing, Ben A. and Pal, Timea, Complements or Substitutes? Private Codes, State Regulation and the Improvement of Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains (February 1, 2012). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2013473 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2013473

Richard Locke (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

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Ben A. Rissing

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States

Timea Pal

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Schifanoia
133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014
Italy

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