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'Spatial fix' or ‘technical fix’?: labour conditions, CSR and the re-organization of the global athletic footwear product chain

Merk, Jeroen (2009) 'Spatial fix' or ‘technical fix’?: labour conditions, CSR and the re-organization of the global athletic footwear product chain. In: Changing Cultures of Competitiveness: Conceptual and Policy Issues, 2009-04-17, Lancaster, United Kingdom. (Submitted)

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Corporations operating in labour-intensive industries like garment and athletic footwear often use spatial strategies to break away from locations of high social conflict: whenever workers gain collective power and wages start to increase, brands and manufacturers seek to safeguard their profit rates by moving into new regions where ‘green’ work forces can be found with no experience in organising. The search for fresh sites of production provides an ‘external solution’, for an emerging crisis of profitability and/or labour control at existing sites. This strategy also created a crisis of legitimacy for global brands as stories detailed a range of labour rights abuses, poor conditions, and abusive management at the new sites of production. Under pressure of the global anti-sweatshop movement a number of leading brands propose an alternative strategy: one that is based on improving productivity at existing sites. Several scholars suggest that CSR concerns has already triggered a transformation in the way sourcing companies organise the production of its merchandise in order to achieve better compliance with its workplace standards. In this paper I critically discuss whether a ‘technical fix’, by using lean production methods, could improve working conditions by increasing the efficiency of production lines without increasing the pace, hours or physical exertion expected of workers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 The Author
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 09 May 2014 14:12
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 00:09

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