United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Global Supplier Development: Insights from the global garment industry

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Global buyers have long been implicated in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) incidents in the Global South, and the garment industry is particular infamous for being involved in accidents with the Rana Plaza accident as the most commonly known. All countries have committed their countries to the UN Sustainability Development Goals. Global buyers have also committed to the SGDs yet are often criticized for not being fully dedicated, which has placed pressure on the global buyers to make sure that their suppliers provide decent jobs (SDG 8) with acceptable OHS. This implies that there are good reasons to assesses if the global buyers within the garment industry will help global suppliers to be aligned with a healthy and safe work environment (SDG target 8.8) among their suppliers.
The goal of the chapter is to develop a set of propositions focusing on the global buyer’s competencies in pursing SDG 8. The chapter is using the global garment industry as a critical case for the development of propositions because it epitomizes the challenges pertaining to creating decent work in global production systems. The propositions draw on the literature as well as in-depth field studies conducted among suppliers from Bangladesh and Myanmar. The field work entailed doing in-depth studies of buyer-supplier relations and related OHS and productivity in more than 50 garment companies in Bangladesh, doing Lean-OHS interventions in 11 global suppliers in garment in Bangladesh as well as action research on lean-based OHS in 5 suppliers in Myanmar.
The chapter focuses exclusively on how pursuing offshore-outsourcing strategies affect global buyers’ ability to design and implement supplier OHS and productivity development activities. The chapter points to that offshore-outsourcing has pronounced negative impacts on the global buyer’s possibility to design and implement direct supplier development programs and thus also for their ability to reach the SDGs. The typical buyer does not engage in supplier development with direct involvement but rely on other development mechanisms such as market pressure and compliance-based programs based on audits and certifications. The findings also indicate that despite the commitment to the SDG, a hierarchy exists within the buyers’ organization privileging productivity (and quality) activities over OHS activities.
TitelCurrent trends in global organization science
RedaktørerA. Akande
ForlagNova Science Publishers
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2021


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