Research Project: Socially Responsible Public Procurement

Improving labour conditions in global production networks through socially responsible public procurement

British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award (March 2018 to March 2019)

Improving labour conditions in global production networks through socially responsible public procurement Global industries such as electronics and clothing face significant challenges over labour violations and poor working conditions in developing countries. This is due to governance gaps in global production networks (GPNs). They include either inadequate regulations, deficient regulatory enforcement capacities in developing countries, or weak and unsustainable self-regulatory private mechanisms, such as standards and codes of conduct, by firms. Research on labour governance in GPNs, however, has paid little attention to socially responsible public procurement particularly by large consuming states. Yet in 2014 the European Union adopted a Directive on Public Procurement which allows clauses on social and labour standards in procurement contracts. The proposed programme aims to develop a conceptual and theoretical lens on the state as a governance actor, in hybrid form as regulator-buyer, exercised through market power in GPNs by bringing together academics and PhDs researching labour governance in GPNs with public-sector buyers and civil society organisations.

Through two workshops to be held in mid November 2018, this project will meet the following objectives:

  1. Conceptualise the evolving role of the state as a governance actor, in a hybrid form as regulatory-buyer, in global production networks.
  2. Engage in a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary discussion involving public buyers, nongovernmental organisations, and academic researchers across geography, law, political science, and business.
  3. Understand how changing governance dynamics by the European Union and its member states can be harnessed to improve labour conditions across global production networks.

As part of this project a collection of papers as part of a Special Issue will be produced in 2019 on  ‘Socially responsible public procurement: an exploration of the state in labour governance in global production networks’. Please click here to view the call for papers (which is now closed).