Research Handbook on Global Justice and International Economic Law

Research Handbook on Global Justice and International Economic Law

Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series

Edited by John Linarelli

The fairness of institutions of global economic governance ranks among the most pressing issues of our time. Most approaches to understanding the complex structure of treaties and intergovernmental organizations such as the WTO tend to uncritically accept an economic focus, highlighting gains from trade and the merits of progressive trade and investment liberalization. While the economic arguments are compelling, other ways of thinking about the roles of these institutions have received less attention. The Research Handbook fills this gap by offering a substantial interdisciplinary examination of the normative and policy underpinnings of the international economic order.

Chapter 6: Human rights issues in multinational value chains

Sarianna M. Lundan

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, international economic law, trade law, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

When William Lever built Port Sunlight as the ideal place for factory workers to work and live, and when Henry Ford paid premium wages to his workers at the Ford assembly plant in River Rouge, both were motivated not only (or at all) by altruism, but by a keen sense of what was required for the long-term sustainability of their businesses. While owner-entrepreneurs still maintain a great deal of latitude in terms of how their corporate citizenship duties are discharged, with the retreat of the state from some of its social welfare functions, and the increasing use of market-based mechanisms and instruments to guide the supply of public goods, the boundaries of corporate citizenship for publicly listed companies have undergone a transformation over the past three decades. On one hand, good corporate citizenship is higher on the agenda than it has ever been before, and increasingly visible in annual reports and separate social performance reports. On the other hand, the options available to managers in executing corporate social responsibility are circumscribed by the perceived demands of shareholders as owners of the firm. While the goal of shareholder value maximization is consistent with improving corporate social performance as a means of controlling risk, the discourse on shareholder value maximization also incorporates a suspicion that managers as agents might be inclined to enhance their private social standing by engaging in charitable activities.

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