Labour standards in global value chains: disentangling workers’ voice, vicarious voice, power relations, and regulation

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Journal Article
Relations industrielles / Industrial Relations, 2016, 71 (4), pp. 741 - 767
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Recent research has started to explore the complexity, limitations, and potential of the regulation of labour standards in global value chains (GVCs). Nevertheless, we still lack a framework integrating the contextual determinants, processes, regulatory mechanisms, and outcomes of the regulation of labour standards in GVCs. This paper identifies the key processes in play as workers’ voice, vicarious voice, international campaigning, and multi-scalar industrial action and shows how such processes lead to particular forms of labour regulation in GVCs. Two pathways are identified that include context variables and processes and lead to the implementation of regulatory mechanisms: the consumer power pathway and the labour power pathway. We then describe and analyze the factors that determine the shift from implementation to actual outcomes thereby contributing to a better understanding of the issue in theory and practice.
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