Voluntary Governance Mechanisms in Global Supply Chains: Beyond CSR to a Stakeholder Utility Perspective

Journal of Business Ethics 134 (1):83-102 (2016)
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Poor working conditions remain a serious problem in supplier facilities in developing countries. While previous research has explored this from the developed buyers’ side, we examine this phenomenon from the perspective of developing countries’ suppliers and subcontractors. Utilizing qualitative data from a major knitwear exporting cluster in India and a stakeholder management lens, we develop a framework that shows how the assumptions of conventional, buyer-driven voluntary governance break down in the dilution of buyer power and in the web of factors rooted in suppliers’ traditions, beliefs, local demands and resource dependency. We reveal out how success in governing collaborative global supply chains often falls short within the subcontracting stage, where a stakeholder management mindset is elusive to most participants. We suggest that success in governing collaborative global supply chains is dependent on concepts of stakeholder utility and the presence of shared value that is often at odds with the realities of power, information asymmetry and compliance/reward systems inherent in the non-market coordination of global supply chains. Our findings offer important insights for delineating the concepts of value creation from CSR concepts and practices, and for modifying the basic assumptions of conventional supply chain governance.



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