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Field opacity and practice outcomes decoupling: private regulation of labor standards in global supply chains

Sarosh Kuruvilla, Chunyun Li, Mingwei Liu and Wansi Chen

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: Although private regulation of labor standards in global supply chains is increasingly adopted by firms in diverse industries, a mounting quantum of scholarly evidence suggests that this approach has not generated sustainable improvements in working conditions of workers in global supply chains. Prior studies attribute this gap between private regulation practices and expected outcomes to flaws in each element of the private regulation model or to symbolic adoption by firms. The authors draw on recent developments in institutional theory regarding practice-outcome decoupling to suggest an alternative organizational field-level explanation. Using qualitative and quantitative data from a global apparel supplier and a global home products retailer, they demonstrate how actor heterogeneity creates field opacity via practice multiplicity, behavioral invisibility and causal complexity, contributing to practice-outcomes decoupling.

JEL-codes: J50 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-07-29
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Published in Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 29, July, 2019. ISSN: 0019-7939

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