Mind the gap: Grass roots ‘brokering’ to improve labour standards in global supply chains

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Human Relations, 2018, 71 (4), pp. 584 - 609
Issue Date:
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© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. While governance and regulation are a first step in addressing worsening working conditions in global supply chains, improving implementation is also key to reversing this trend. In this article, after examining the nature of the existing governance and implementation gaps in labour standards in global supply chains, we explore how Viet Labor, an emerging grass-roots organization, has developed practices to help close them. This involves playing brokering roles between different workers and between workers and existing governance mechanisms. We identify an initial typology of six such roles: educating, organizing, supporting, collective action, whistle-blowing and documenting. This marks a significant shift in the way action to improve labour standards along the supply chain is analysed. Our case explores how predominantly top-down approaches can be supplemented by bottom-up ones centred on workers’ agency.
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