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Codes in Context: How States, Markets, and Civil Society Shape Adherence to Global Labor Standards

Author

Listed:
  • Michael W. Toffel

    () (Harvard Business School, Technology and Operations Management Unit)

  • Jodi L. Short

    () (University of California, Hastings College of the Law)

  • Melissa Ouellet

    () (Harvard Business School)

Abstract

Transnational business regulation is increasingly implemented through private voluntary programs-like certification regimes and codes of conduct-that diffuse global standards. But little is known about the conditions under which companies adhere to these standards. We conduct one of the first large-scale comparative studies to determine which international, domestic, civil society, and market institutions promote supply chain factories' adherence to the global labor standards embodied in codes of conduct imposed by multinational buyers. We find that suppliers are more likely to adhere when they are embedded in states that participate actively in the ILO treaty regime and that have stringent domestic labor law and high levels of press freedom. We further demonstrate that suppliers perform better when they serve buyers located in countries where consumers are wealthy and socially conscious. Taken together, these findings suggest the importance of overlapping state, civil society, and market governance regimes to meaningful transnational regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:13-045
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael W. Toffel, 2008. "Coerced Confessions: Self-Policing in the Shadow of the Regulator," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 45-71, May.
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    6. Erin M. Reid & Michael W. Toffel, 2009. "Responding to public and private politics: corporate disclosure of climate change strategies," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(11), pages 1157-1178, November.
    7. Michael J. Lenox & Charles E. Eesley, 2009. "Private Environmental Activism and the Selection and Response of Firm Targets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 45-73, March.
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    13. 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.
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