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Article | Journal of Management Studies | March 2021

Political CSR at the Coalface: The Roles and Contradictions of Multinational Corporations in Developing Workplace Dialogue

Workers in garment factory. (Shutterstock)

Key Insights for Managers

Can multinational corporations play a role in supporting and developing worker participation committees in their supply chains? The authors Juliane Reinecke and Jimmy Donaghey find that brands working with garment suppliers in Bangladesh can achieve this by acting as guarantors, capacity-builders, or enforcers of workplace dialogue. First, they can work closely with suppliers to guarantee them that participation committees would not lead to worker unrest or threaten the position of management, but rather strengthen the buyer-supplier relationships and deal with employee conflicts earlier on. Second, brands can build the capacity of workers by training them on how to communicate effectively with management about concerns, how meetings should be structured, and how to build an agenda. Third, brands can try to enforce the establishment of democratically-elected participation committees by reluctant factory owners, such as by tracking indicators monitoring the efficiency of participation committees at solving workplace issues, by calling them to ensure the presence of participation committees, and by threatening to cut ties with those who do not allow for participation committees.

This study used qualitative data from the workplace dialogue program by the Joint Ethical Trading Initiatives (JETI), which encourages its member companies to establish participation committees and dialogue in their factories. Analyses are focused on 50 interviews relating to apparel factories in Bangladesh.



Link to the full text Published Academic Paper

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