Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 133, Issue 1, pp 39–54 | Cite as

Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing Countries’ Industrial Clusters

  • Elisa Giuliani


A recent preoccupation in scholarly research is the capacity of firms in developing country industrial clusters to comply with international corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and codes of conducts. This research is at an early stage and draws on several—often quite distinct—scholarly traditions. In this paper, we argue that future work in this area would benefit from a more explicit examination of the connection between cluster firms and human rights defined according to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent covenants and treaties. We argue that cluster firms’ adoption of CSR policies, often indiscriminately imposed by global buyers, should be differentiated from firms’ actual human rights practices. Based on this distinction, we elaborate a typology of industrial clusters (low-road, window-dressing, rights-oriented) and identify a set of factors likely to influence their practice. Against this background, we discuss an agenda for future research and elaborate on the potential methodological intricacies related to research on the interface between industrial clusters and human rights.


Human rights Corporate social responsibility (CSR) Industrial clusters Developing countries 



The author is grateful to Chiara Macchi, Luisa Nardi and Emanuele Sommario at DIRPOLIS (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies) for their precious advice on human rights and international law issues. Thanks go also to Peter Lund-Thomsen and two anonymous referees for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. All errors and omissions are the author’s responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.CIRCLELund UniversityLundSweden

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