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

Richard M. Locke

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

Ben A. Rissing

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Behavioral Policy Science (BPS)

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 M. 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 M. Locke (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
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(401) 863-3596 (Phone)

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

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Ben A. Rissing

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Behavioral Policy Science (BPS) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Timea Pal

European University Institute ( email )

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

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