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Exploitation in Bangladeshi ready-made garments supply chain: a case of irresponsible capitalism?

Mohammad Jasim Uddin (Department of Management, School of Business, Monash University, Sunway, Malaysia)
Fara Azmat (Deakin Business School, Burwood, Australia)
Yuka Fujimoto (Sunway University Business School, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Farhad Hossain (Global Development Institute, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 20 September 2022

Issue publication date: 18 January 2023

99

Abstract

Purpose

Despite considerable research and constant pressure from global media, exploitation has been a persistent problem in the Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) supply chain. Yet, the root causes of how and why exploitation still persists remain unexplored. This paper explores the reasons underlying the existence of exploitation in the RMG supply chain of Bangladesh using the theoretical lens of responsible capitalism.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on 98 interviews conducted at multiple levels of the RMG supply chain ecosystem, site visits, observation and archives, the authors unpack the underlying reasons for the existence of exploitation in Bangladeshi RMG supply chain.

Findings

Using the theoretical lens of responsible capitalism, the findings suggest the existence of exploitation as a multifaceted yet nuanced phenomenon that is a result of complex power dynamics, interdependency and interconnectedness of players at multiple levels of the supply chain. The authors extend responsible capitalism theory by adding local context as a key determinant for the RMG supply chain to be responsive, effective and sustainable. The authors further argue the need for a new business model in global supply chain that calls for a fundamental shift of businesses towards responsible capitalism via transformative actions at multiple levels for balancing power in relationships, generate profit with ethical integrity and take responsibility of the consequences of their actions.

Research limitations/implications

The authors use a contextualized case study of the RMG supply chain in Bangladesh using a critical realist approach. Although the use of contextualized case study has enabled better understanding of causal relationships between management practices and exploitation in the local context of Bangladesh, a quantitative approach to establish causality between different factors could be the focus of future research. The findings are specific to the context of Bangladeshi RMG supply chain and may have limited generalizability in other contexts. Further studies may build upon the findings to explore exploitation in RMG supply chain of other sectors and countries in the region and compare the findings to develop comprehensive understanding about the root causes of exploitation.

Practical implications

The findings call for a fundamental shift of business towards responsible capitalism via transformative actions of multiple players across different levels of the supply chains with managerial implications.

Originality/value

By drawing on empirical research, the authors provide a holistic perspective of responsible capitalism that is influenced by interactions and interconnectedness of players in multiple levels of the supply chain. The authors expand the responsible capitalism theory by adding local context as a key determinant that need to be considered for supply chains to be responsive, effective and sustainable.

Keywords

Citation

Uddin, M.J., Azmat, F., Fujimoto, Y. and Hossain, F. (2023), "Exploitation in Bangladeshi ready-made garments supply chain: a case of irresponsible capitalism?", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 164-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-12-2021-0565

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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