Contextualising compliance: hybrid governance in global value chains

Jennifer Bair
DOI number
#Trade and FDI
#Social and working conditions
#Corporate responsibility and lead firms

Widespread disappointment with compliance auditing in supply chains has led to a search for new governance solutions in global industries. Recent scholarship on labour standards in supply chains emphasises the need for complementarity between public and private forms of governance, and the importance of local contexts in shaping compliance outcomes. This paper, in contrast, argues that the distinction between public and private governance belies the complex interaction of regulatory forms and industry dynamics in global production networks. It develops this argument via ananalysis of the International Labour Organisation Better Work programme,which, over the last decade, has metamorphosed from a country-specific monitoring programme into a unique model of hybrid governance that has been implemented in a half dozen countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Drawing from field research conducted on Nicaragua’s Better Work programme, it examines the achievements and limitations of hybrid governance, and proposes that these can best be understood when the global value chain for apparel is seen as a transnational field with in which relational struggles between different stakeholders at the global and national levels shape the political contexts within which particular governance solutions are pursued.

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