The Promise & Limits of Private Power:
Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy
Locke, Richard M.
The Promise & Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy.
New York: Cambridge University Press, April 2013.
The Promise & Limits of Private Power examines and evaluates various private initiatives to enforce fair labor standards within global supply chains Using unique data (internal audit reports, access to over 120 supply chain factories and 700 interviews in 14 countries) from several major global brands (NlKE, Hewlett Packard, Philips van Heusen) and the ILO's Factory Improvement program in Vietnam, this book examines both the promise and the limitations of these approaches to actually improve working conditions, wages, working hours for the millions of workers employed in today's global supply chains. Through a careful, empirically-grounded analysis of these programs, this book manuscript illustrates what mix of private and public regulation is needed to address these complex issues in a global economy.
The book makes three basic contributions:
1) First, it makes an empirical contribution in that this is the first study (in fact, the only study) that has been able to gain access to the internal factory audits of major corporations and analyze them to show how things are really working in the thousands of factories scattered throughout the developing world that produce the goods we consume every day. These audit reports (data) coupled with unprecedented access to over 100 factories supply several major brands creates a unique opportunity to shed light on and analyze current labor conditions and labor rights within today's global supply chains.
2) Second, the book manuscript makes a theoretical contribution by exploring how regulation (both private voluntary regulation and state regulation) need to combine to tackle these labor problems, and how this unfolds in a world of shifting firm boundaries, dynamic supply chains, and growing efforts to complement traditional forms of regulation with emerging private forms of regulation.
3) Finally, the book makes a practical contribution by showing what works and what does not and suggesting pragmatic strategies for key actors (multinational corporations, transnational NGOs, governments, etc.)
Locke discusses labor and global supply chains in the media:
AFSCME: Forum — Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains?
Business Insider — Fast Fashion Trends Are Helping To Drive Dangerous Conditions At Factories
Council on Foreign Relations — Bangladesh and the Future of Corporate Social Responsibility
Economic Policy Institute : Working Economics — Will Apple follow in Nike’s failed footsteps?
The Globe and Mail: Commentary — The garment disaster is no time to abandon Bangladesh
MIT News Office — How to make factory conditions better
NPR's To the Point
The New Yorker — After Rana Plaza
The New York Times: Editorial Notebook — Before You Buy That T-Shirt
Opinio Juris — Will the Bangladesh Factory Tragedy Kill Voluntary Corporate Codes?
Radio New Zealand: nine to noon
Salon — Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains?
Toronto Star: opinion/Commentary — Feel bad about Bangladeshi factory disasters? Act as citizens, not consumers: Brender
The Wall Street Journal (pdf) — Standards Clash in Bangladesh Reforms
Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains?, Boston Review