How Do Small Businesses in Developing Countries Participate in Social Irresponsibility?

10127264163_3280e1b6e0_z[We’re pleased to welcome Vivek Soundararajan of Birmingham Business School. Vivek recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “Small Business and Social Irresponsibility in Developing Countries: Working Conditions and ‘Evasion’ Institutional Work” with co-authors Laura J. Spence and Chris Rees of University of London.]

This article is an outcome of my ongoing research about working conditions in developing country supplier facilities. My fieldwork observations in small knitwear exporting facilities located in Tirupur, India shook numerous assumptions drawn largely from a developed country perspective that we usually work with when dealing with small businesses. This prompted me to write this article along with my co-authors Prof. Laura J. Spence and Prof. Chris Rees. A prevailing notion among scholars BAS Coverand policy makers about developing country small suppliers of developed country buyers is that they are resource dependent, powerless and passive. Indeed, small suppliers are resource dependent and may hesitate to retaliate against multinational corporations’ requirements or other institutional demands related to working conditions. But, they do not simply agree with everything or abandon the relationship. They discreetly bypass various institutional demands by engaging in numerous irresponsible business practices which we refer to as ‘evasion work’ – a form of institutional work. In this article, we illustrate numerous ways in which they engage in ‘evasion work’ and the conditions that enable them to engage in such work. We believe that our study highlights the need for a more critical research on the organization of working conditions in small businesses that are part of global supply chains. Our study also adds to the ongoing conversation about the agency of resource-dependent and powerless actors. In terms of practical implications, we emphasize the need for sustainability initiatives tailored to meet the capabilities and characteristics of suppliers in developing countries.

The abstract for the paper:

Small businesses in developing countries, as part of global supply chains, are sometimes assumed to respond in a straightforward manner to institutional demands for improved working conditions. This article problematizes this perspective. Drawing upon extensive qualitative data from Tirupur’s knitwear export industry in India, we highlight owner-managers’ agency in avoiding or circumventing these demands. The small businesses here actively engage in irresponsible business practices and “evasion” institutional work to disrupt institutional demands in three ways: undermining assumptions and values, dissociating consequences, and accumulating autonomy and political strength. This “evasion” work is supported by three conditions: void (in labor welfare mechanisms), distance (from institutional monitors), and contradictions(between value systems). Through detailed empirical findings, the article contributes to research on both small business social responsibility and institutional work.

You can read “Small Business and Social Irresponsibility in Developing Countries: Working Conditions and ‘Evasion’ Institutional Work” from Business & Society free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all of the latest research from Business & Society? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Bazar image attributed to michael_swan (CC)

Vivek Soundararajan (PhD, Royal Holloway, University of London) is a research fellow at Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom and a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway University of London. His research interests include corporate responsibility, multistakeholder initiatives, labor and environmental standards, sustainable global supply chains, small business responsibility, and emerging country contexts. He has obtained various grants, honors and awards for excellence in research, including two prestigious awards for his doctoral dissertation, namely, “Best Dissertation Award, Social Issues in Management (SIM) Division, the Academy of Management, USA” and “Honourable Mention, Thomas A. Kochan & Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Competition, Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), USA.”

Laura J. Spence (PhD, Brunel University/Buckinghamshire College) is professor of business ethics in the School of Management at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research includes a wide range of critical approaches to understanding corporate social responsibility and business ethics. In particular, she is known for her work on small- and medium-sized enterprises and the emerging concept of small business social responsibility. Her articles have been published in Accounting, Organizations and Society; Business Ethics Quarterly; California Management Review; and Organization Studies.

Chris Rees (PhD, University of Warwick) is professor of employment relations in the School of Management at Royal Holloway, University of London. His research interests include the sociology of work, employee voice, and transnational and European labor regulation. His work has appeared in journals such as European Journal of Industrial Relations, Human Resource Management Journal, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, and Public Management Review.

Book Review: New Strategies for Social Innovation: Market-Based Approaches for Assisting the Poor

515PTSxE02L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Steven G. Anderson: New Strategies for Social Innovation: Market-Based Approaches for Assisting the Poor. New York: Columbia University Press, 344 pp. $105.00 (hardcover), $31.50 (paperback), $29.79 (Kindle Edition), ISBN-13: 978-0231159227

Satyam of the Indian Institute of Management in Lucknow, India recently reviewed Steven G. Anderson’s book on strategies for assisting the poor in developing countries, available now in the OnlineFirst section of Journal of Macromarketing.

Different perspectives on which developmental approach is the best to tackle the problems of the poor have been JMMK_new C1 template.indddebated, while change agents have been trying to address this issue in various ways. The answer lies in finding solutions to more fundamental questions including: What are some of the best ways to assist the poor in developing countries; which development strategies have better chances of success in a particular context and why; what are the strengths and limitations of these social change approaches; and what is the way forward?

Professor Steven G. Anderson, Director of School of Social Work at Michigan State University, draws upon his four decades of expertise as academician as well as practitioner and attempts to answer these questions in his latest book, New Strategies for Social Innovation: Market-Based Approaches for Assisting the Poor. His book takes the readers through four broad social development approaches that emphasize diverse market-based strategies to improve the life of disadvantaged groups. The book contains seven chapters and is just above three hundred pages in length. The chapters are organized around the approaches described by the author and towards the end an attempt is made to integrate these overarching approaches along with a comparative analysis.

You can read the rest of the review from Journal of Macromarketing for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research and reviews from Journal of Macromarketing? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Podcast: Why Vietnam? A Macromarketing Perspective

The Journal of Macromarketing (JMK) has a new podcast highlighting the March 2012 Special Issue on Vietnam, with articles on entrepreneurship, retailing, weddings and sex roles, quality of life, environmental sustainability, and more in the nation known as a model for developing countries worldwide.

JMK Editor Terry Witkowski of California State University interviewed guest editor Clifford J. Shultz II of Loyola University Chicago, who sees Vietnam as “a living laboratory” for these issues. Dr. Shultz discusses Americans’ evolving understanding of Vietnam and explores the depth and breadth of expertise represented in this special issue.

Click here to download the podcast, and here to subscribe on iTunes.

Clifford J. Shultz II is Professor and Kellstadt Chair of Marketing in the School of Business Administration at Loyola University Chicago. He received his Ph.D., M. Phil. and M.A. from Columbia University in the City of New York, and his B.A. from DePauw University. Dr. Shultz has expertise on marketing, economic development and consumption in transforming economies, particularly the transition economies of Asia, the Balkans, and other recovering economies. He served two terms as Editor of the Journal of Macromarketing, and has over 150 publications in various scholarly outlets, including the Columbia Journal of World Business, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Business Horizons, Psychology and Marketing, Marketing Management, Research in Consumer Behavior, Journal of Applied Social Psychology and others. Dr. Shultz also served as President of the International Society of Markets and Development, and currently serves on several editorial and policy boards, including Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Trzište, Vietnam Marketing Journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life, and Consumption, Markets and Culture.

Terrence Witkowski, Editor of the Journal of Macromarketing, is Professor of Marketing and Director of International Business Programs at the College of Business Administration, California State University, Long Beach.  He holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University, an M.S. in Management from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from U. C. Berkeley.  About half of Dr. Witkowski’s research focuses on international topics, especially marketing in developing countries and cross-cultural consumer behavior, and the remainder is in the area of U.S. marketing and consumer history and the history of marketing thought.  Dr. Witkowski has published over 90 journal articles, papers and abstracts in conference proceedings, book reviews, and other works, and serves on editorial review boards of the Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Marketing Theory, and Management & Organizational History. He is a former President of the CHARM (Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing) Association.

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JMK Special Issue on Vietnam

The Journal of Macromarketing (JMK) has released its first country-specific special issue, featuring articles and commentaries about Vietnam that tie in to various macromarketing themes. Guest editor Clifford J. Shultz, II, of Loyola University Chicago, authored the introductory essay, “Vietnam: Political Economy, Marketing System.” To access all articles in this special issue, please click here.

The abstract:

Vietnam is an evolving political economy and marketing system. Since the implementation of Doi Moi, the 1986 policy to invoke a shift from central economic planning to a more market-oriented system, the country has made extraordinary progress on several socioeconomic indicators. Some observers contend Vietnam is a development model; others suggest the country still has numerous challenges to overcome before it can reach its development goals. This article provides an overview of Vietnam’s socioeconomic development; it introduces eight refereed articles and four commentaries that comprise the scholarly contributions to the first special issue of the Journal of Macromarketing to feature research on a single country. Vietnam is that country. Contributors provide detailed research, analysis, and reflection on the interplay of markets, marketing, and society. Topics studied include system complexity and entrepreneurship, retailing evolution, consumption dynamics and societal wellness, family policy and consumption, education and human resource development, living standards and quality of life, ethical/unethical foreign direct investment, ritualistic consumption, and marketing, trade and protectionism, land policy and environmental sustainability, and implications for Vietnam’s economic and geopolitical future.

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Addressing the Climate Change-Sustainable Development Nexus

Jonatan Pinkse, Grenoble Ecole de Management, and Ans Kolk, University of Amsterdam Business School, published “Addressing the Climate Change–Sustainable Development Nexus: The Role of Multistakeholder Partnerships” on November 23rd in Business & Society. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

The abstract:

While calls are being made to deal with the linkages between climate change and sustainable development to arrive at an integrated policy, concrete steps in this direction have been very limited so far. One of the possible instruments through which both issues may be approached simultaneously is a multistakeholder partnership, a form of governance with the potential to address existing regulatory, participation, resource and learning gaps as it harnesses the strengths of private, public, and nonprofit partners. There is some insight into partnerships for climate change, but largely limited to developed countries, and those in developing countries most often do not involve companies. To help fill this gap, this article explores the role of multistakeholder partnerships in addressing climate change and sustainable development in developing country settings. It elaborates on the governance function of partnerships, on actor involvement, the gaps addressed, as well as synergies and trade-offs in the climate change-sustainable development nexus and how partnerships may help address them. As the number of such partnerships is still limited, we discuss seven illustrative partnerships and draw conclusions as to further conceptualizations and implications for research and practice.

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