Transforming European Employment Policy
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Transforming European Employment Policy

Labour Market Transitions and the Promotion of Capability

Edited by Ralf Rogowski, Robert Salais and Noel Whiteside

Since the mid 1990s, the focus of European employment and social policy has shifted from protection to promotion. This book provides a timely analysis of this new form of governance, and the new forms of policy delivery and audit which accompany it.
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Chapter 10: Corporate Social Responsibility and Employment: A Plurality of Configurations

Claude Didry


* Claude Didry The principal of corporate social responsibility is frequently presented as the basis for a new way of regulating working conditions and the environment (Sobczak, 2002). This type of regulation, initiated by multinationals, is considered to be an alternative, or at very least a supplement (European Commission, 2001), to legal norms in place within nation states and even continental areas (in the case of the EU). As a form of ‘soft law’, this model would avoid the use of a legislative intervention that would prohibit behaviour deemed harmful for the community, and would contribute to what some negatively term ‘legislative inflation’.1 Indeed, this new form of regulation would reflect the firm’s role in the monitoring of working conditions and environmental awareness. Accordingly, through the theme of social responsibility we see how the perception of multinational firms has changed radically. Once denounced by political leaders in the 1970s as a threat to national sovereignty, they are now celebrated as economic agents whose declarations of principle could moralise globalisation. In its current form, corporate social responsibility has been rendered visible through ‘codes of conduct’ and ‘international framework agreements’, many of which are catalogued on the ILO website concerning the ‘Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises’. This evolution corresponds with the advent of a new kind of company model, that of the ‘networked firm’, a firm which outsources its production activities in order to focus on management and design. Codes of conduct allow these firms to establish minimum standards regarding working...

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