Corporate elites are increasingly held responsible for issues of sustainability including working conditions and workers’ rights in global production networks. We still know relatively little about how they respond to concrete stakeholder initiatives aiming to restrict corporate voluntarism through transnational regulation. In this paper we report comparative findings on corporate legitimation strategies in response to requests by labor representatives to sign Global Framework Agreements (GFAs). These agreements are intended to hold multinational corporations (MNCs) accountable for the implementation of core labor standards across their supply chains. We propose to broaden management-focused analyses of corporate legitimation strategies by applying a field-oriented perspective that considers the embeddedness of management in a broader web of strategic activity and variable opportunity structures. Our findings suggest that legitimation strategies are developed dynamically along with the rules, positions, and understandings developing around specific regulatory issues in sequences of interactions between elites and challenging groups.
We thank the editors and especially Sigrid Quack for invaluable comments regarding the development of this paper. We are also grateful for all the vivid debates with the members of the multinational GFA research team.
Helfen, M., Schüßler, E. and Botzem, S. (2015), "Legitimation Strategies of Corporate Elites in the Field of Labor Regulation: Changing Responses to Global Framework Agreements", Elites on Trial (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 43), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 243-268. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20150000043021
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