Can consumers force retailers to develop ethical supply chains for products?

In a discussion in the Sunday Review of the New York Times (May 12, 2013), Professor Jerry Davis suggested that consumers can demand from retailers that they develop ethical supply chains, following the deaths of employees manufacturing clothing in Bangladesh. One reader remarks that public action against grapes, to protest farm worker treatment in the 1960s, reduced demand by 10 to 15 % but forced changes in conditions. Others suggest that consumers reward companies that commit to improving conditions in countries like Bangladesh rather than just move their production elsewhere. Will change come from consumer action and withholding demand from products without any supply chain oversight? How can retailers and manufacturers who demonstrate their role in improving worker conditions be rewarded by consumers – through demand increases or by a willingness to accept higher prices ? Will consumer choice be the decisive element in improving worker conditions or will company reputations require such actions by their own management ?

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About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Global Contexts, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Can consumers force retailers to develop ethical supply chains for products?

  1. Interesting thought. The problem is that there are far more retailers out there looking for the lowest cost manufacturing no matter what. There are far more consumers that could care less about the ‘humane’ supply chain. While domestic agriculture may feel the effects of a boycott quickly, not so with overseas textile operations. Remember that we are talking about Bangladesh here, not San Francisco or New York. There’s a cultural problem that would have to be dealt with from within that culture, not just by punishment or reward of the retailer.

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