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Reinforcing Corporate Social Responsibility through Collective Bargaining in China: A new wave of Social Change

Huang, Tingting LU (2012) JAMM06 20111
Department of Law
Abstract
Ever since corporate social responsibility (CSR) became a prominent school of thought, this subject has constantly upgraded itself to keep pace with the fast-changing world. However, given that CSR is largely a market-driven, top-down response, it has entered into a bottleneck where downstream stakeholders are out of the picture. Speaking of improving labour standards via CSR, when business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as such occupy the dominant position, workers are only perceived as passive beneficiaries, whose power and potentials are not fully acknowledged. This perspective consequently jeopardised the effectiveness and sustainability of CSR initiatives. Leading corporations along with dedicated advocates made adjustments... (More)
Ever since corporate social responsibility (CSR) became a prominent school of thought, this subject has constantly upgraded itself to keep pace with the fast-changing world. However, given that CSR is largely a market-driven, top-down response, it has entered into a bottleneck where downstream stakeholders are out of the picture. Speaking of improving labour standards via CSR, when business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as such occupy the dominant position, workers are only perceived as passive beneficiaries, whose power and potentials are not fully acknowledged. This perspective consequently jeopardised the effectiveness and sustainability of CSR initiatives. Leading corporations along with dedicated advocates made adjustments accordingly; yet their endeavours merely achieved limited outcomes, especially in the developing economies.

Against this background, the thesis concentrates on introducing a long-neglected element to enhance CSR in the world of work, namely organised workers on the factory floor. Inspired by the theory of ‘human rights-based approach’, workers are active stakeholders and rights-holders empowered with the capacities to fight for their vital interests.

To be specific, this study asserts that the collective strength arisen from united workers can define the future trajectory of CSR, as manifested by a new wave of industrial actions in China. The movement has surprised the world, considering that ‘on strike’ is a long-established ‘sensitive words’ (blacklisted keywords) in the Chinese context. What is even more phenomenal is the ensuing mechanism of collective bargaining, through which the new-generation migrant workers are acting as their own agents. They rediscovered the value of freedom and association and the right to collective bargaining, while exerting an internal pressure on business. Some striking changes are activated (or reinforced), typically the varying landscape of labour relations and the formation of a new working class, and this situation calls for a more responsive CSR.

Borrowed the idea from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, CSR is a ‘continuing commitment’ as well as an ‘engine for social progress’. Bearing this in mind, CSR is anticipated to facilitate this social change as a historical agent. Based on the intensive research, this study concludes that the resultant from the top-down approach and the bottom-up pressure can face the recurring challenge of realising international labour standards in the extended global supply chain. (Less)
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author
Huang, Tingting LU
supervisor
organization
course
JAMM06 20111
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
corporate social responsibility (CSR), international labour standards, collective bargaining, new generation of migrant workers, Chinese labour relations, workers empowerment
language
English
id
3054737
date added to LUP
2012-10-15 13:31:46
date last changed
2012-10-15 13:31:46
@misc{3054737,
  abstract     = {Ever since corporate social responsibility (CSR) became a prominent school of thought, this subject has constantly upgraded itself to keep pace with the fast-changing world. However, given that CSR is largely a market-driven, top-down response, it has entered into a bottleneck where downstream stakeholders are out of the picture. Speaking of improving labour standards via CSR, when business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as such occupy the dominant position, workers are only perceived as passive beneficiaries, whose power and potentials are not fully acknowledged. This perspective consequently jeopardised the effectiveness and sustainability of CSR initiatives. Leading corporations along with dedicated advocates made adjustments accordingly; yet their endeavours merely achieved limited outcomes, especially in the developing economies. 

Against this background, the thesis concentrates on introducing a long-neglected element to enhance CSR in the world of work, namely organised workers on the factory floor. Inspired by the theory of ‘human rights-based approach’, workers are active stakeholders and rights-holders empowered with the capacities to fight for their vital interests.

To be specific, this study asserts that the collective strength arisen from united workers can define the future trajectory of CSR, as manifested by a new wave of industrial actions in China. The movement has surprised the world, considering that ‘on strike’ is a long-established ‘sensitive words’ (blacklisted keywords) in the Chinese context. What is even more phenomenal is the ensuing mechanism of collective bargaining, through which the new-generation migrant workers are acting as their own agents. They rediscovered the value of freedom and association and the right to collective bargaining, while exerting an internal pressure on business. Some striking changes are activated (or reinforced), typically the varying landscape of labour relations and the formation of a new working class, and this situation calls for a more responsive CSR.

Borrowed the idea from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, CSR is a ‘continuing commitment’ as well as an ‘engine for social progress’. Bearing this in mind, CSR is anticipated to facilitate this social change as a historical agent. Based on the intensive research, this study concludes that the resultant from the top-down approach and the bottom-up pressure can face the recurring challenge of realising international labour standards in the extended global supply chain.},
  author       = {Huang, Tingting},
  keyword      = {corporate social responsibility (CSR),international labour standards,collective bargaining,new generation of migrant workers,Chinese labour relations,workers empowerment},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Reinforcing Corporate Social Responsibility through Collective Bargaining in China: A new wave of Social Change},
  year         = {2012},
}