Forum: Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains?

Source: Boston Review, May/June 2013

Responses include:

Richard M. Locke:
Companies such as Nike and Apple have invested a lot in private programs to improve working conditions in their suppliers’ factories. Do the programs work? Not really.

Isaac Shapiro
Apple’s recent supplier-responsibility report is silent on changes to its purchasing practices.

Tim Bartley:
Even firms praised for responsibility flee countries where reforms are underway.

Jodi L. Short and Michael W. Toffel:
Codes of conduct can support the political action necessary to improve conditions.

Gary Gereffi:
Governments in big emerging economies can pressure foreign companies.

Hannah Jones:
When human capital is valued, labor rights are not far behind.

Pamela Passman:
Corruption and intellectual property theft also pose ethical challenges in global supply chains.

Drusilla Brown
The threat of trade sanctions improved labor conditions a century ago, and it can again today.

Aseem Prakash:
We need to know more about what kinds of private regulation work best.

Layna Mosley
Companies should press host-country governments to enable freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Richard M. Locke replies:
Until the costs and benefits of doing business are shared among everyone involved, innovation will produce at best limited results.