No-Size-Fits-All: Collaborative Governance as an Alternative for Addressing Labour Issues in Global Supply Chains

Journal of Business Ethics 162 (2):291-305 (2020)
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Abstract

Labour issues in global supply chains have been a thorny problem for both buyer firms and their suppliers. Research initially focused mostly on the bilateral relationship between buyer firms and suppliers, looking at arm’s-length and close collaboration modes, and the associated mechanisms of coercion and cooperation. Yet continuing problems in the global supply chain suggest that neither governance type offers a comprehensive solution to the problem. This study investigates collaborative governance, an alternative governance type that is driven by buyer firms setting up a coalition with competitor firms to increase leverage and address the supplier and/or host country-specific labour issues. Based on interviews with managers involved in the establishment and management of such coalitions and supplier firms in the garment industry, we examine the rationale behind collaborative governance and discuss its opportunities and challenges in addressing labour issues in global supply chains.

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