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Child labour and supply chain: profitability or (mis)management

Ambika Zutshi (School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)
Andrew Creed (School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)
Amrik Sohal (Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Caulfield East, Australia)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 16 January 2009




The purpose of this paper is to provide a realistic assessment, with an historical perspective, of the current practises and progress made by organisations towards elimination of child labour in global supply chains.


Literature review in the area of use of child labour within the global supply chain was combined with additional information obtained from the company searches of the GRI database, company ranking tables, and other sources.


Child labour is one of a number of areas of concern in global supply chains. Continued exploitation of child labour indicates an imbalanced state and consequently forces can be unleashed through standardization, collaboration and communication amongst all stakeholders to ensure protection of the vulnerable. This paper is part of the broader analysis informing incremental changes to supply chain management to preserve the rights and welfare of children in the present and future generations.


The analysis is based on secondary data sources and further research is thus needed to verify the individual weightings of the criteria used in the primary ranking of the companies.

Practical implications

The findings provide encouragement for policy and decision makers to implement incremental changes to global supply chains in order to protect the rights and welfare of children, according to the standards of Social Accountability (SA) 8000, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and other world trade stakeholders.


This paper questions the view that child labour incidences have diminished proportional to economic development. A swinging fulcrum with hidden traps for developed and developing nations in light of cross border transactions through supply chains has been proposed.



Zutshi, A., Creed, A. and Sohal, A. (2009), "Child labour and supply chain: profitability or (mis)management", European Business Review, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 42-63.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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