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Social Sustainability Challenges and the Role of Middle Managers: Case of the Ready-Made Garment Industryin Bangladesh

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  • Aleksandra Draganić
  • Nazmul Arefin

Abstract

Over the last decades, the ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh has expe-rienced a remarkable economic growth becoming the backbone of the country’s econ-omy. Nevertheless, the industry is still faced with unsustainable business practices that threaten to hinder the sector’s progress in the future. Among others, these include long working hours, unhealthy work environment, restricted ability of workers to organize, gender-based discrimination and shortage of skilled workforce, in particular mid-level managers. Hence, improvement of managerial knowledge and skills is seen as a necessity for the development of Bangladeshi RMG firms and introduction of sustainable business practices. According to available research, general obstacles like expat hiring, discrepancy in sup-ply and demand between the educational and industrial sectors, stark male to female occupational segregation and limited training opportunities impede the position of mid-level managers in the Bangladesh RMG sector. In addition to this, our findings indicate that mid-level managers in the Bangladesh RMG sector lack strategic knowledge of social sustainability issues. Furthermore, we perceived that mid-level managers possess underdeveloped soft skills, lack a deeper understanding of gender-related topics and specific needs of the female workers. Lastly, there is a lack of incentives from the side of the top-level management and factory owners in terms of providing mid-level managers further training to acquire the skills necessary for better performance. To improve conditions, mid-level managers in the Bangladesh RMG sector need training programmes to address the specific challenges that they are facing, depending whether they work in the administration side or production sector. Furthermore, we propose to change the perception that “compliance is the need of the buyer, not a need of factory†, to foster a female-friendly work environment and enhance the representation of women in mid-level management positions, recognize social dialogue as the enabler of healthy industrial relations climate, arrange regular sustainability training for the managers and reduce over-dependency on the donors for training arrangements and undertake long-term industry-education partnership strategies for developing local semi-mid-level and mid-level managers.

Suggested Citation

  • Aleksandra Draganić & Nazmul Arefin, 2021. "Social Sustainability Challenges and the Role of Middle Managers: Case of the Ready-Made Garment Industryin Bangladesh," ICDD Working Papers 28, University of Kassel, Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften (Social Sciences), Internatioanl Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD).
  • Handle: RePEc:ajy:icddwp:28
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bossavie,Laurent Loic Yves & Cho,Yoonyoung & Heath,Rachel, 2019. "The Effects of International Scrutiny on Manufacturing Workers : Evidence from the Rana Plaza Collapse in Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9065, The World Bank.
    2. Mark Anner, 2020. "Squeezing workers’ rights in global supply chains: purchasing practices in the Bangladesh garment export sector in comparative perspective," Review of International Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(2), pages 320-347, March.
    3. Muhammad Faisol Chowdhury & Tasnim Rezoana Tanim, 2016. "Industrial Accidents in Bangladesh Apparel Manufacturing Sector: An Analysis of the Two Most Deadliest Accidents In History," Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Management Studies, Asian Online Journal Publishing Group, vol. 3(2), pages 115-126.
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