Opening the 'Black Box': Transnational Private Certification of Labor Standards in China

Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, RCCPB Working Paper #18

34 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2012

See all articles by Tim Bartley

Tim Bartley

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Sociology

Zhang Lu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 2012

Abstract

This paper examines the dynamics and possible effects of transnational private certification of labor standards in Chinese export-oriented consumer products industries. Drawing on interviews with various relevant actors in Guangdong, Shanghai, and Beijing and a survey of manufacturing firms in Guangdong province, we investigate: How have initiatives originating outside China been shaped by the Chinese context and potential competition from domestically-driven standards? What are the circumstances in which factories get certified, and to what extent does being certified indicate compliance with standards? To what extent are there clear differences in the performance of certified and non-certified factories? Overall, we find that factory certification has been insufficient to transform labor conditions and relations in Chinese factories, but it sometimes supports improvement or formalization in management practices. In addition, we consider whether factory certification may have indirect effects on the evolution of labor relations in China and the shape of global governance.

Note: Downloadable document is in Chinese and English.

Suggested Citation

Bartley, Tim and Lu, Zhang, Opening the 'Black Box': Transnational Private Certification of Labor Standards in China (February 2012). Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, RCCPB Working Paper #18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2169350 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2169350

Tim Bartley (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Sociology ( email )

1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Zhang Lu

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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