The Power of Industry Self-regulation to Promote Responsible Labor Standards: Insights from the Chinese Toy Industry

Journal of Business Ethics 143 (4):789-805 (2017)

Abstract
The provision of responsible labor standards along the entire value chain poses considerable challenges for corporations. In particular, management shortcomings and institutional deficits—which are partly related to cultural issues—frequently impede the realization of responsible business practices in emerging and developing countries. It is widely established in theory that industry self-regulation constitutes a particularly promising approach for overcoming these challenges. Nonetheless, it is still an open question as to whether industry initiatives effectively promote responsible standards in practice. This contribution aims to enrich the current discussion about the power of industry self-regulation to ensure responsible labor standards in factories in emerging and developing countries. For this purpose, we analyze the ICTI CARE Process, the self-regulation initiative of the international toy industry, that aims to promote responsible business practices in Chinese toy factories. The assessment of the ICP shows that corporations’ buying behavior is decisive in order for industry self-regulation to become an appropriate means of improving labor standards. Based on the insights from the study and from theoretical reasoning, we develop a framework for effective industry self-regulation that integrates the perspective of factories.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-016-3075-0
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