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Accounting for the Gaps in Labour Standard Compliance: The Role of Reputation-Conscious Buyers in the Cambodian Garment Industry


  • Chikako Oka

    () (London School of Economics, Department of Management, London.)


Working conditions in global supply chains have come under increased public scrutiny. Faced with this growing demand for accountability, some multinational enterprises have come to play regulatory roles in developing countries where they do business. This article combines quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the effects of reputation-conscious buyers on supplier labour standard compliance in the Cambodian garment sector. Using unique factory-level panel data, this article shows that factories producing for reputation-conscious buyers are associated with better compliance levels than other factories, controlling for factory characteristics. Field-based interviews also demonstrate that reputation-conscious buyers regulate supplier compliance both ‘reactively’ and ‘proactively.’ The findings shed light on the opportunities and limits of buyer-driven regulation.L’attention du public est de plus en plus attirée par les conditions de travail dans la chaîne de valeur globale. Certaines firmes multinationales en viennent à jouer un rôle de régulation dans les pays où se situent leurs activités afin de répondre à cette exigence de responsabilité. Cet article combine des méthodes quantitatives et qualitatives dans le but d’examiner les effets des comportements « responsables » des acheteurs quant au respect des normes du travail par les fournisseurs dans le secteur du vêtement au Cambodge. A partir de données de panel originales au niveau de l’entreprise, cet article démontre que les entreprises produisant pour des acheteurs soucieux de leur image respectent mieux les normes internationales du travail que les autres entreprises, et ceci en utilisant les caractéristiques des firmes comme variables de contrôle. Des entretiens effectués sur le terrain soulignent également que les acheteurs soucieux de leur image ont un rôle de régulation vis-à-vis du respect des normes par les fournisseurs que ce soit grâce à leurs initiatives ou à leurs réactions. Les résultats mettent en évidence à la fois les opportunités et limites de la régulation par les acheteurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Chikako Oka, 2010. "Accounting for the Gaps in Labour Standard Compliance: The Role of Reputation-Conscious Buyers in the Cambodian Garment Industry," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 22(1), pages 59-78, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:22:y:2010:i:1:p:59-78

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    Cited by:

    1. Asuyama, Yoko & Chhun, Dalin & Fukunishi, Takahiro & Neou, Seiha & Yamagata, Tatsufumi, 2010. "Firm dynamics in the Cambodian garment industry: firm turnover, productivity growth, and wage profile under trade liberalization," IDE Discussion Papers 268, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    2. Andrea R. Hugill & Jodi L. Short & Michael W. Toffel, 2016. "Beyond Symbolic Responses to Private Politics: Examining Labor Standards Improvement in Global Supply Chains," Harvard Business School Working Papers 17-001, Harvard Business School.
    3. Ebert, Franz Christian., 2013. "Social dimensions of free trade agreements," Studies on Growth with Equity, International Labour Office, Research Department, number 994838513402676.
    4. Ebert, Franz Christian, 2013. "Social dimensions of free trade agreements," Studies on Growth with Equity 483851, International Labour Office, Research Department.
    5. Jodi L. Short & Michael W. Toffel & Andrea R. Hugill, 2016. "Monitoring global supply chains," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(9), pages 1878-1897, September.

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