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Does Monitoring Improve Labor Standards? Lessons from Nike


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  • Richard M. Locke
  • Fei Qin
  • Alberto Brause
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    Using a unique data set based on factory audits of working conditions in over 800 of Nike’s suppliers across 51 countries over the years 1998–2005, the authors explore whether monitoring for compliance with corporate codes of conduct—currently the principal way both global corporations and labor rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) address poor working conditions in global supply chain factories—achieved remediation, as indicated by improved working conditions and stepped-up enforcement of labor rights. Despite substantial efforts and investments by Nike and its staff to improve working conditions among its suppliers, monitoring alone appears to have produced only limited results. However, when monitoring efforts were combined with other interventions focused on tackling some of the root causes of poor working conditions—in particular, by enabling suppliers to better schedule their work and to improve quality and efficiency—working conditions seem to have improved considerably.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

    Volume (Year): 61 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 (October)
    Pages: 3-31

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    Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:61:y:2007:i:1:p:3-31

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    Cited by:
    1. Chonnikarn Fern Jira & Michael W. Toffel, 2011. "Engaging Supply Chains in Climate Change," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-026, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2012.
    2. Christopher Marquis & Michael W. Toffel, 2011. "Scrutiny, Norms, and Selective Disclosure: A Global Study of Greenwashing," Harvard Business School Working Papers 11-115, Harvard Business School, revised Dec 2013.
    3. Price, Richard & Román, Francisco J. & Rountree, Brian, 2011. "The impact of governance reform on performance and transparency," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 76-96, January.
    4. Maria Besiou & Mark Hunter & Luk Wassenhove, 2013. "A Web of Watchdogs: Stakeholder Media Networks and Agenda-Setting in Response to Corporate Initiatives," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 118(4), pages 709-729, December.
    5. Amengual, Matthew, 2010. "Complementary Labor Regulation: The Uncoordinated Combination of State and Private Regulators in the Dominican Republic," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 405-414, March.
    6. Julia Wolf, 2011. "Sustainable Supply Chain Management Integration: A Qualitative Analysis of the German Manufacturing Industry," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 102(2), pages 221-235, August.
    7. Till Talaulicar, 2009. "Barriers Against Globalizing Corporate Ethics: An Analysis of Legal Disputes on Implementing U.S. Codes of Ethics in Germany," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 84(3), pages 349-360, February.
    8. Cameron Sabadoz, 2011. "Between Profit-Seeking and Prosociality: Corporate Social Responsibility as Derridean Supplement," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 77-91, November.
    9. Kim, Jee Young, 2013. "The Politics of Code Enforcement and Implementation in Vietnam’s Apparel and Footwear Factories," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 286-295.
    10. Jette Knudsen, 2013. "The Growth of Private Regulation of Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains: Mission Impossible for Western Small- and Medium-Sized Firms?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 117(2), pages 387-398, October.
    11. Yi Han & Enying Zheng & Minya Xu, 2014. "The Influence from the Past: Organizational Imprinting and Firms’ Compliance with Social Insurance Policies in China," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 65-77, June.
    12. Valentina Mele & Donald Schepers, 2013. "E Pluribus Unum? Legitimacy Issues and Multi-stakeholder Codes of Conduct," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 118(3), pages 561-576, December.
    13. Rossi, Arianna, 2013. "Does Economic Upgrading Lead to Social Upgrading in Global Production Networks? Evidence from Morocco," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 223-233.
    14. Susan A. Kayser & John W. Maxwell & Michael W. Toffel, 2014. "Supply chain screening without certification: The critical role of stakeholder pressure," Working Papers, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy 2014-08, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    15. Michael W. Toffel & Jodi L. Short & Melissa Ouellet, 2012. "Codes in Context: How States, Markets, and Civil Society Shape Adherence to Global Labor Standards," Harvard Business School Working Papers 13-045, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2014.
    16. Jennifer Bair & Gary Gereffi, 2013. "Better Work in Central America: assessing the opportunities for upgrading in Nicaragua’s apparel sector," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series, BWPI, The University of Manchester ctg-2013-17, BWPI, The University of Manchester.


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