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     Redefining international Business Accountability

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    On the intersection of global business and human rights, the phenomenon of CSR has become the key component for business success. In 2013, the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh that was the deadliest accident in the global garment industry generated a lot of attention internationally. Killing 1,134 garment workers, the most important aspects of this tragedy have been to realize to what extent this disaster would have the significant potential to impact business ethics and accountability worldwide. This thesis aims to shed some light on those policy threats that exist on different levels of decision-making, particularly in the areas of human rights and labor practices. The main purpose is to analyze if the Rana Plaza accident could create the potential for effective enforceable mechanisms over the past eight years.

    In general, what future trends are holding for the long run impact on the policy standards in compliance with international Human Rights Law, which is one of the defining features of global CSR in the modern era. With the focus on Bangladesh, the main questions will address the systematic weakness of CSR in global supply chains, in particular: how do international companies and different advocacy coalitions negotiate in the policy formation process and how do interest groups formulate the ideas that are perceived as a key issue in policy debates. By examining the points where they agree or disagree, this research seeks to identify why, by whom, and how particular ideas emerge as a result. With the sufficient theoretical approach from public policy field, this paper will examine the dynamics of policy change with respect to the Rana Plaza collapse as a focusing event. By applying Kingdon’s multiple streams framework this research will offer a new way to analyze CSR policy decisions in complex international settings.

    In order to define defines reality of global CSR policies, one must understand how policies are developed. At this point, the formulation of theoretical prepositions might create a good foundation for the further researches in other industries and it may help policy-makers to deal with challenges in this regard. Original research In recent years, Bangladesh, with its cheapest labor market (minimum wage 32 cents an hour), has become one of the ultimate offshoring destinations for big retail companies. It is the second largest manufacturing center after China, employing between 3.5 million to 4 million garment workers. According to international labor standards, global companies have a responsibility that rights of workers are respected through their supply chain (Peels, Schneider, Echeverria & Aissi, 2015).

    However, global brands that operate within the countries characterized by a weak legal system are not being held accountable and leave garment workers in unsafe conditions. Transparency and horrific conditions for factory employees in which they work have been the part of the conversation of human rights and labor advocates for many years. But the Rana Plaza tragedy became the critical moment for global retailers and brands that led them to sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety (Baumann-Pauly, 2018).

    It is a legally binding agreement between companies that were sourcing clothing from the building at the time of its collapse.( ) Some argue, that this binding agreement between brands and global unions, is a proof of their commitment to transparency with the greater accountability. However, its lack of effectiveness showed how fragile it can be over time. Even though the Bangladesh Accord publishes a list of all garment factories covered by the initiative, it does not publicly identify which factory produces for what brand (Baumann-Pauly, 2018) and. In this process of systematic negligence, a lot of garment workers still do not know who they are producing for that creates unstable relationship and imbalance among different actors contributing human and labor rights violations. In fact, factory building collapses and fires are not the only problems in the apparel manufacturing world (Finnegan, 2013).

    At the heart of the issue lies the structural weakness of global CSR. It makes it clear that there is no standard in approach for the industry and the main driver remains apparent, to cut costs and gain an ever-greater amount of cheaper clothing (Bhattacharjee, 2018). The central theme of current debates has become the lack of transparency that makes it easier for companies to continue such practices. Not enough has changed in business practices of this industry and it is still challenging to deal with appropriate policies (the ACCORD, 2018). Methods of research The paper will be structured in six chapters. The first chapter will be the introduction, that will inform the reader about the research problem questions and overall approach of the project. In the second chapter, I will review the academic literature with respect to public policy and international law. In Chapter three I will provide with background and history of the garment industry in Bangladesh, focusing specifically on transparency and policy changes, internally or otherwise behind the scenes. I will frame the crucial issues on the intersection of international corporate responsibility strategy and public policy.

    Therefore, I will provide information about the complexities of corporate engagement in politics and enforcement mechanisms in broad political affairs. In chapter four I will present data collection and research methods with labor-related references, laws, and regulations to CSR with respect to international agreements. Chapter five will analyze theoretical approach, that will address Kingdon’s Multiple Streams framework to the case study on the Rana Plaza tragedy as the focusing event. It will examine the theories presented in the literature review in chapter two. The final chapter six will be the conclusion of the analysis with the discussion and justification of the findings. It will suggest recommendations for future research. The methodology of this research will be based on international standards, such as UN guiding principles, international trade, and agreements. I will generate the research materials from the publicly available reports published by the most notable signatory apparel brands belonging to the Accord, with the focus on CSR initiatives and activities. I will examine the reports from international advocacy organizations, company/corporate websites, financial statements and disclosures.

    As a secondary source, I will review scholarly books and articles, Literature Review To analyze the development of this issue at the international level, I will address former UN special representative for business and human rights Prof. John Ruggie, who argues that the notion of ‘knowing and showing’ is at the very heart of the guiding principles and corporate responsibility. If a company does not know and cannot show, or will not show, then it raises questions. (Ruggie…). Other scholars also developed the ideas that, CSR is increasingly discussed as an element of state policies (Steurer, 2010) and the CSR agenda as a whole may now have reached a turning point in which the public sector is repositioned as a centrally important actor (Ward, 2004). According to Debora Spar (1998) “as corporations spread throughout the international economy, justice is hardly a central concern of the modern corporate enterprise and it gets lost in the shuffle (Spar, …).

    The challenging issue here is for multinational corporations to engage in CSR efforts with global level effectiveness” (Wang, Tong, Takeuchi). To assess the advocacy networks in international politics, I will address Keck and Sikkink. Their approach suggests a view of multiple pathways into the international arena. They argue that individuals and groups may influence not only the preferences of their own states via representation, but also the preferences of individuals and groups elsewhere, and even of states elsewhere, through a combination of persuasion, socialization, and pressure. To examine policy formation in Bangladesh case study, for predictive ability of theory I will apply it to Kingdon’s framework of “three stream model”, that explains how sudden, unpredictable events called focusing event influence the public policy-making process.

    I will also apply the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), the model, developed by Paul A. Sabatier, which is based on the idea that policy evolution is the product of the efforts of various coalitions to use the verity of legal and political instruments to achieve objectives over time. This kind of theoretical approach will help to better conceptualize what the main drivers are and how multiple actors use various mechanisms to produce change over time. In addition to this, derived from carefully conducted case studies and other official materials, the literature review will help to breakdown the complex reality of the policy-making process.

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