Nadira Lamrad, “Transnational Business, CSR, and Governance in China”

Working Abstract

As global production migrated to developing countries, China transformed into a manufacturing powerhouse. But, this growth in industrial capacity was not matched by a growth in strong governance structures that protect workers and communities. In recent decades, transnational corporations (TNCs) have stepped in to fill this gap using a variety of mechanisms that fall under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR has become a popular, but often contested, topic. This interest has sprouted numerous definitions, explanations and criticisms of the concept. Yet, the root of the debate surrounding CSR is not the concept itself, but the level and intent of business engagement in social and political affairs. Traditionally conceptualized as simple market actors solely interested in the pursuit of ever-increasing profits, businesses have increasingly adopted responsibilities that extend beyond their traditional economic role. This paper uses CSR programs in China’s apparel industry as a tool to observe the dialogue on the responsibility of business. The paper considers the implications of changes in business activities on existing governance frameworks, and the ensuing ramifications for concepts of CSR.

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