The paper seeks to review the literature on CSR in industrial clusters in developing countries, identifying the main strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in this literature, pointing to future research directions and policy implications in the area of CSR and industrial cluster development.
A literature review is conducted of both academic and policy‐oriented writings that contain the keywords “industrial clusters” and “developing countries” in combination with one or more of the following terms: corporate social responsibility, environmental management, labor standards, child labor, climate change, social upgrading, and environmental upgrading. The authors examine the key themes in this literature, identify the main gaps, and point to areas where future work in this area could usefully be undertaken. Feedback has been sought from some of the leading authors in this field and their comments incorporated in the final version submitted to Corporate Governance.
The article traces the origins of the debate on industrial clusters and CSR in developing countries back to the early 1990s when clusters began to be seen as an important vehicle for local economic development in the South. At the turn of the millennium the industrial cluster debate expanded as clusters were perceived as a potential source of poverty reduction, while their role in promoting CSR among small and medium‐sized enterprises began to take shape from 2006 onwards. At present, there is still very little conceptual and empirical work that systematically investigates the linkages between industrial clusters and CSR in developing country contexts. Hence, the authors recommend that future work in this area should focus on conceptually developing and empirically testing “cluster and CSR” impact assessment methodologies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This will provide insights into whether joint CSR interventions in clusters bring about their intended consequences of improving economic, social, and environmental conditions in the South.
This article is likely to be the first systematic review of the literature on industrial clusters and CSR in developing countries.
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