The Journal of Private Enterprise, Forthcoming
22 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017 Last revised: 22 Dec 2017
Date Written: March 1, 2017
This paper provides a model of employee immolation and provides a case study of the effect that public influences on corporate policy has on the welfare of employees. Conventional wisdom would suggest that efforts to improve the lives of workers within oppressive labor conditions would be viewed at least neutrally if not positively. Recent work, such as Powell (2014), argue that these efforts may not be as clearly beneficial as they were once thought and further that they may worsen the lives of the very people they attempt to improve by worsening economic opportunity. Our work extends this idea, applying it to deleterious effects on employee action rather than on employee opportunity. Specifically, we look at the case of Foxconn employee suicides in the spring of 2010 and the role that public influence played in contributing to employee suicides. We conclude with a cautionary note: that public influence is indeed a powerful tool capable of much good, but that care must be taken to prevent it being misused, even if unintentionally.
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