The Labour and Human Rights issues in Sri Lankan global supplier companies of UK multinationals: The influencing factors

Hettiarachchi, Chandima (2019) The Labour and Human Rights issues in Sri Lankan global supplier companies of UK multinationals: The influencing factors. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on analysing the labour and human rights (L&HR) issues in Sri Lankan supplier companies of UK multinationals (MNCs) and the influencing factors that shape such issues. It specifically examines the influences of global value chain (GVC) governance structures, institutional forces and legitimacy seeking intentions of MNCs on L&HR issues in garment, rubber and tea sectors.

The thesis is based on three theoretical domains; Global value chain framework, Institutional theory and Legitimacy theory. It uses a qualitative research methodology discharged through three stages. First, mapping of GVCs with investigatory methods, second, a case study analysis of L&HR issues based on interviews and third, an analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports by MNCs using content analysis. Data were analysed in an evaluative manner to arrive at the findings. The findings showed that the three sectors have different GVC governance structures which influence the sector-specific L&HR issues differently. The common L&HR issues were low wages, forced labour, job insecurities and violation of freedom of association. They were found to be influenced by different levels of institutional fields in political, legal, regulatory, socio-cultural and religious aspects. CSR reporting by MNCs was found to be focussing on positive aspects (legitimising) while lacking information on fundamental L&HR issues leaving a gap between the reporting and reality. The findings reinforce and supple the concepts of the three theoretical domains.

The contributions include evaluating the influence of GVC governance structures on L&HR issues, analysing L&HR issues particularly in plantation sectors in Sri Lanka and identifying the gap between CSR reporting and reality. Influences of paternalism, religious humanitarianism and religious fatalism on L&HR issues were identified too. The influential factors and their interactions are complex where GVC governance structures, institutional influences in UK and SL and legitimacy seeking behaviour of MNCs all affect workers on the ground level. The most influential factors, however, are specifically connected to local social, cultural and religious norms which seems to override the voluntary governance mechanisms of MNCs and any local laws or regulations. The thesis calls for future research and policy implications that would enable holistic and integrated approaches (at both national and transnational levels) to alleviate the L&HR issues.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > Business School
B. > Theses
Item ID: 26894
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2019 09:24
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2019 04:33
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/26894

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