Exploring the Effects of Union-NGO Relationships on Corporate Responsibility: The Case of the Swedish Clean Clothes Campaign
In the current era, governments are playing smaller roles in regulating workers’ rights internationally, and transnational corporations (TNCs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the struggle for workers’ rights, and labour/trade unions have started to fill this governance gap. This paper focuses on the least researched of the relationships among these three actors, the union–NGO relationship, by analysing the ways in which it affects definitions of TNC responsibility for workers’ rights at their suppliers’ factories. Based on a qualitative study of the union–NGO relationship in the Swedish garment industry between 1996 and 2005, we propose that there are six main configurations of union–NGO relationships. By linking these configurations to their effects on TNC responsibility, we propose that co-ordination relationships between unions and NGOs, particularly high-commitment co-ordination relationships, are likely to result in a broadening of the definition of TNC responsibility, while conflictual relationships, both high and low commitment, result in a narrowing of the definition of TNC responsibility. The study indicates that co-operation is generally more beneficial for both unions and NGOs than is any form of conflictual relationship, in terms of broadening the definition of TNC responsibility.
University of Gothenburg. School of Business, Economics and Law
Gothenburg Research Institute
Journal of Business Ethics
Clean Clothes Campaign
non governmental organisation
article, peer reviewed scientific