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Suppliers’ Compliance with MNCs’ Codes of Conduct: Behind the Scenes at Chinese Toy Suppliers

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Abstract

Despite increased academic and practitioner interest in codes of conduct, there has been little research into the actual compliance of suppliers in developing countries with the codes of conduct of multinational corporations (MNCs). This paper addresses this lack by analysing Chinese suppliers’ level of compliance with Swedish toy retailers’ codes of conduct. Based on unannounced and unofficial interviews with employees of Chinese suppliers, the study shows that all of the nine studied suppliers breached some of the standards in the toy retailers’ codes, with over two-thirds of the suppliers not complying with the majority of the studied standards. While there are different explanations of this lack of compliance, the main explanation seems to be that Chinese suppliers successfully deceive toy retailers’ monitoring organisations by decoupling the formal monitored part of their organisation from the actual operational part of their organisation. The paper concludes with a discussion of how to increase compliance with MNCs’ codes of conduct.

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Correspondence to Niklas Egels-Zandén.

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Niklas Egels-Zandén is a PhD student at the School of Business, Economics and Law, Goteborg University, Sweden. His areas of research are international business and corporate social responsibility, especially in relation to multinational corporations in developing countries. He has previously published in Journal of Business Ethics, Business Strategy and the Environment, and Journal of Corporate Citizenship.

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Egels-Zandén, N. Suppliers’ Compliance with MNCs’ Codes of Conduct: Behind the Scenes at Chinese Toy Suppliers. J Bus Ethics 75, 45–62 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9237-8

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