Buyer Engagement and Labour Conditions in Global Supply Chains: The Bangladesh Accord and Beyond

Chikako Oka, Niklas Egels-Zandén, Rachel Alexander

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Abstract

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (‘Accord’) has received both praise and criticism concerning its implications on corporate responsibility and power. This article contributes to the debate by situating the Accord within a broader set of activities buyers are engaged in to promote better labour conditions in their supply chains. We identify three approaches of buyer engagement as auditing, capacity building and advocacy. Drawing on interviews conducted with 64 European brands and retailers, we show how buyers perceive merits and challenges of these approaches, and whether and how they discharge responsibility and power through these activities. Our study shows that the Accord is seen primarily as part of the auditing approach with a key feature being its use of collective leverage as a means of enforcement. While greater buyer power has not necessarily accompanied greater responsibility, we also highlight heterogeneity among buyers in how they take up different approaches, painting a more nuanced picture of buyer responsibility and power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalDevelopment and Change
Early online date24 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Accord
  • Bangladesh
  • Corporate responsibility
  • Labour conditions
  • Supply chains
  • Auditing
  • Capacity building
  • Advocacy

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