VII. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Research Question 1: How has the Apparel Industry enacted their espoused Codes of Conduct over time?
This study group will focus on monitoring studies by PWC, FLA, WRC, and Global Alliance, as well as studies that support and question their methods and findings.
Improvements for industry workers have been realized (more or less) over time as various social movements, as well as corporate staff have put pressure on subcontract factory management to make Codes meaningful and enforceable. The question here, for example, is how is it that workers come to know the implications of Code of Conduct, beyond (in China) a packet that is tied about their necks (in some locations).
There seem to be two sub-research
questions. The first (and most is around the social construction of
the concept of "code of conduct." It seems to be taken as
read that the concept is unproblematic outside the Anglo-American
context - but what are the competing ways of understanding something
like compliance, what are the divergent understandings of "code
or "conduct" across the stakeholders, what are the
assumptions concerning 'proper' conduct as used by workers,
government, history, PWC, Global Alliance, the factory managers etc?
One of the interesting research questions is around
"agency," especially in terms of who has a say in the code,
what sort of "say", etc.
The second research project seems to be centered on the idea of thinking about systems of monitoring and transferability across industries, work forces and countries and about models of inspection. Dara O'Rourke's (2000) recent study (September 28th) review of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) monitoring practices in factories in China, Korea, and Indonesia has implications for this research question. In accompanying audits from PWC on their inspections, O'Rourke concludes that "auditors conducted very limited inspections of health and safely conditions in the factories" and that "factory inspection repots PwC produced did not convey an accurate picture of the conditions in these factories." In particular "reports are so condensed that they miss major issues and plant a false impression of a factory's compliance with local laws" (p. 1). This is the first systematic analysis of PWC monitoring methods which are used to audit apparel industry subcontractor compliance with codes of conduct. Auditors failed to note:
Hazardous chemical use and other serious health and safety problems (at the Nike factory, i.e. the use ob Benzol, a chemical that prohibited by Nike's Code and Corporate policy, excessive noise levels, inadequate ventilation, failures to post safety signs in Indonesian language, and lack of safety guards on machines);
THE FOLLOWING ARE ITEMS NOTED IN NON-NIKE FACTORIES
Barriers to freedom of association and collective bargaining;
Violations of overtime laws;
Violations of wage laws;
Timecards that appeared to be falsified.
On the other side of the coin, Kahle, Boush and Phelps (2000) inspection of a Nike subcontract factory in Vietnam, found no instances of violations of Nike's Code of Conduct and confirmed the findings of the Andrew Young study conducted in 1997. Kahle et al (2000) review Nike and its code compliance on three ethic theories and find that Nike exceeds compliance. There is therefore a need for more research.
This study group will look at how the Code of Conduct and its implementation have occurred historically. This study will critically examine the history of negotiations over the commitments embodied in the code, the process by which these commitments have been communicated to stakeholders within and outside of the company, and how conduct is and could more effectively be monitored to promote compliance with this code." The assumption is that codes and their implementation as processual phenomena that involve negotiation, communication and changes in attitudes and behavior, as well as the implementation of formal systems.
Code of conduct research includes the possibility of social and ecological audits/impact assessments of factory operations in certain countries.
Nike in 1998 began to implement ISO14000 environmental standards in its subcontract factories and is in the process of obtaining ISO certification. Such audits could be extremely participatory in nature and provide contexts for stakeholder, particularly marginalized groups, involvement. An alliance building frame will be important in that it will facilitate openings for corporate management to participate in such processes. Such involvement will enable, hopefully, in generating operational guidelines for reframe.
There is also an important question about comparison. As a pilot process, could this study group develop a methodology for doing similar work at other companies and on other codification processes and policy commitments in the future. In this context, the relevant literature review will need to be much broader, that is comparing Nike with other companies (e.g. Landrum, 2000 who contrasted Nike and Reebok's annual report statements).
This study group will examine the current ways PWC as well as FLA and Global Alliance attests to subcontractor compliance with Nike's Code of Conduct. The group will also look at the effectiveness of training of factory managers and factory workers in the Code of Conduct. PWC does 6,000 factory inspections a year and is the world's leader (Greenhouse, 2000). FLA is still developing their inspection protocol, and Global Alliance has released its first reports.
Finally, the history here is
important. The industry move to adopt codes of conduct in the
athletic shoe industry is said to be the result of the State
Department's 1992 Human Rights Report to the U.S. Congress, concerning
on shoe manufacturing practices in Indonesia. Some contend that it was
in response to this congress investigation, Nike crafted its code of
conduct, and then joined the Apparel Partnership (Ballinger &
Olsson, 1997: 12). The Apparel Partnership (formed after the Kathy Lee
Gifford sweatshop story became international news).
An important member of this study group is the workers of Nike. Global Alliance (funded by Nike and Mattel) is running well publicized focus groups and interviews with thousands of Asian workers. The recent Indonesia study cost Nike 7.8 million dollars. Our challenge is this is a study run by consultants paid by the logo-corporations. It is not independent academic work. The results are not presented in ways that can be subjected to academic social science critique.
We think it is important to include workers as well as factory managers in the study of how Codes of Conduct are enacted. Including the voice of the workers, while essential, must also be done with great care. In the past there have been workers who have been fired and otherwise disciplined for participating in studies and media reporting on factories (See Miss Lap Nguyen). Study group members such as Robert Kreisher (and others) have experience in similar types of risks and are used to making sure that "informants" cannot be identified from any published material.
The group will present its findings and make recommendations for improvements.
Subgroup 1 Volunteers to date (Name links take you to their statements):
Angana P. Chatterji, Ph.D. Angana@aol.com (Subgroup 1 coordinator)
Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology
California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco
Director of Research, Asia Forest Network Program
Center for Southeast Asia Studies
University of California, Berkeley
Tim Connor, BA, LLB
School of Geosciences,
University of Newcastle,
Address: 55 Wells Street, Redfern NSW 2016 Australia
Phone: 61 2 9698 2394
Linda Perriton email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lecturer, Centre for Management,
University of York
YORK YO10 5DD
Robert D. Kreisher email@example.com
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Communication
And Office of Diversity Initiatives
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave. CIS 1040
Tampa, FL 33620
Mary Boyce, Ph.D. -- firstname.lastname@example.org University of Redlands, CA. I am just beginning work on a research project aimed at examining the internal organizational dialogue of executives of multinational corporations as they determine how involved to become in an emerging democracy with a transitional economy. Mary is sending her statement and her relevant publications.
Professor Usha C. V. Haley, Ph.D. email@example.com
Associate Professor, School of Management
University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Graham Knight Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Sociology
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
905-525-9140 x24481 (Voice)
The following NGO study reports and media reports on the issue have been suggested by readers of this proposal:
Cruel Treatment Working for Nike in Indonesia Urban Community Mission Survey Report, December 1999 Source: Press For Change Jeff Ballinger Jeffrey_Ballinger/FS/KSG%KSG@harvard.edu
Dara O'Rourke, a professor of environmental and labor policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported that "PwC's monitoring efforts are significantly flawed," said Dr. O'Rourke, "PwC's audit reports glossed over problems of freedom of association and collective bargaining, overlooked serious violations of health and safety standards, and failed to report common problems in wages and hours." On the other hand, ..."Pricewaterhouse officials defended their monitoring, saying their inspectors often uncover violations of minimum wage, overtime and safety laws. But these officials acknowledged that the firm's inspectors occasionally missed things that an expert on industrial hygiene, like Professor O'Rourke, would uncover" (Source Stephen Greenhouse "Report Says Global Accounting Firm Overlooks Factory Abuses" New York Times, September 28, 2000). To download entire report using ADOBE see http://web.mit.edu/dorourke/www/PDF/pwc.pdf
The article looks at the auditing practices of PWC for Wal-Mart, Timberland, New Balance, and Nike. The implication is that "auditing systems can miss serious problems -- and that self-policing allows companies to avoid painful public relations about them." And therefore a study of self-monitoring, PWC, FLA and other monitoring systems is needed. "While no company suggests that its auditing systems are perfect, most say they catch major abuses and either force suppliers to fix them or yank production." (Source: Roberts, Dexter & Bernstein, Aaron "A Life of Fines and beatings," Business Week, October 2, 2000 pp. 123-128).
Report Says Global
Accounting Firm Overlooks Factory Abuses. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/28/business/28SWEA.html
September 28, 2000 By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
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