Social Upgrading in the Bangladeshi Garment Sector Since Rana Plaza: Why Some Governance Matters More Than Others

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Recent research has highlighted several pathways to social upgrading in global supply chains. We take a closer look at recent developments with regard to these pathways in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Focusing on the variety of potential paths allows us to take the initiatives of different actors as well as their interplay into account. Building on our own empirical research as well as other recent studies, we show that—especially since the Rana Plaza factory collapse—improvements can be observed with regard to outcome standards (e.g., working hours, building safety, etc.) but are still lacking in other areas, including important process rights. In analyzing these developments, we show that a hierarchy exists between different paths that have contributed to these improvements. While several paths to social upgrading have been activated since Rana Plaza, the extent to which this is the case differs. Critically, in Bangladesh, those paths that matter the most for the overall governance arrangement remain the least activated. We argue that the identified hierarchy, therefore, limits possibilities for more comprehensive and sustainable social upgrading. We conclude by formulating policy recommendations to support upgrading in the Bangladeshi garment industry.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEconomic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains : Comparative Analyses, Macroeconomic Effects, the Role of Institutions and Strategies for the Global South
EditorsChristina Teipen, Petra Dünhaupt, Hansjörg Herr, Fabian Mehl
Number of pages27
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Publication date01.01.2022
ISBN (Print)9783030873196
ISBN (Electronic)9783030873202
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022.