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Rana Plaza collapse aftermath: are CSR compliance and auditing pressures effective?

Sinkovics, Noemi and Hoque, Samia Ferdous and Sinkovics, Rudolf R (2016) Rana Plaza collapse aftermath: are CSR compliance and auditing pressures effective? Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 29 (4). pp. 617-649. ISSN 0951-3574

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the intended and unintended consequences of compliance and auditing pressures in the Bangladeshi garment industry. To explore this issue the authors draw on three medium-sized suppliers. The institutional changes that followed the Rana Plaza accident in April 2013 make Bangladesh in general and the garment industry in particular an interesting and suitable research setting for standards compliance. Design/methodology/approach – The study adopts a multiple case study approach. Face-to-face interviews have been conducted with the owners of three Bangladeshi garment manufacturing firms and several workers. Additionally, organisational documents and local newspaper articles had been collected wherever possible. Findings – The results indicate that the pressure for compliance has led the case companies to prioritise the implementation of measurable standards over the socially grounded needs and priorities of workers. As a consequence certain initiatives instead of adding new social value in fact destroyed previously existing social value. Furthermore, the pressure for compliance created the necessity to find ways to cover the sizable cost of compliance. This prompted firms to pursue process upgrading through technological advancements and increased work pressures on the labour force. These initiatives led to an increased power imbalance and the exclusion of unskilled workers from the job market. Research limitations/implications – The paper contributes to the understanding of the human rights implications of compliance and auditing pressures and initiatives. Furthermore, in order to further enrich existing knowledge in the critical accounting literature, the study draws on insights from the global value chains (GVC) and international business (IB) literatures. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the understanding of the human rights implications of compliance and auditing pressures and initiatives. Furthermore, in order to further enrich existing knowledge in the critical accounting literature, the study draws on insights from the GVC and IB literatures.

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