Fichter, Michael/Jörg Sydow (2002): Using Networks Towards Global Labor Standards? Organizing Social Responsibility in Global Production Chains, in: Industrielle Beziehungen, 09 (04), 357-380.


The prosperity of spreading economic globalizatiion often rests on subjecting labor to working conditions which violate elementary human rights. Political, and to a markedly lesser extent, academic controversies over counter-measures have developed with a primarily focus on cases of buyer-driven global commodity chains. With general and judicable global standards non-existent, consumer and shareholder pressure plus internal goals for setting labor standards have led some globally active enterprises to voluntarily adopt codes of conduct as a means of dealing with this problem all along the commodity chain. Using some basic tenetts of structuration theory and insights based on an exploratory empirical analysis of three cases from the apparel industry, this paper looks at such codes as a tool of corporate social responsibility. From this, it goes on to ask whether the form and the shape of the inter-organizational network are conducive or a hindrance to achieving acceptable labor standards. Following a brief review of the problems associated with achieving generally recognized global labor standards, the paper concludes with an appraisal of the need to embed corporate social responsibility in a comprehensive institutional framework in the interest of human rights and global labor standards.