This is the second meeting of the “Just Supply Chains” working group, to be held at Stanford University on May 16-17, 2008. It will builds on the themes and debates that came out of our first meeting, held at MIT in January, 2008, but extends them by focusing more on issues related to national level and global regulation. Please find, attached, a description of the Just Supply Chains project.
Our first meeting brought together an exciting group of academics, business managers, leaders of various labor-rights NGOs, and representatives of the ILO to discuss the role of corporate codes of conduct and other private voluntary efforts have played in promoting just employment relations in global supply chains. We focused on issues of fair compensation, decent and healthy working conditions, and rights of association. Although this first meeting also discussed some innovative experiments taking place within certain sectors or even within individual nation-states, the bulk of our time was spent debating the possibilities and limitations of private voluntary regulatory efforts promoted by both corporations and NGOs.
Five key themes/questions emerged from our January meeting:
- What are the costs and benefits associated with traditional labor compliance programs and how are these costs and benefits distributed among the different actors operating across global supply chains?
- Related to this first theme is a second set of questions about “ethical consumption.”
- A third issue that emerged from our discussions in January centered on independent unions and the rights of individual workers to associate and bargain collectively for improved wages, working conditions, and work hours.
- Our fourth set of concerns builds directly on the previous issues: What can we learn from various national-level experiments with regulatory reform, especially in some of the larger developing countries?
- Finally, how do global governance arrangements, in particular as they relate to bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements impact the promotion of just working conditions across global supply chains?
These five themes will be the focus of our May 16-17 workshop at Stanford. As with our first workshop, our minimal hope is to establish a common basis of knowledge and generate lively discussions around these important issues. Our more ambitious agenda is to generate a collaborative research agenda on these issues – research that will have an important impact not only on various academic disciplines but also on real-world practice and policy. To facilitate these two goals, we have once again invited a diverse group of academics, business managers, and NGO and IGO representatives to share their respective knowledge and engage in collective discussions and debates.
» Just Supply Chains - May Papers and Powerpoints (password protected)