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Shifting the perspective on labor exploitation: Non-commercial organizations’ contribution toward supply chain governance

Shirgholami, Zahra; Cole, Rosanna; Aitken, James


Rosanna Cole

James Aitken


Labor exploitation persists within global supply chains regardless of governmental legislation, private governance mechanisms, and increasing consumer demands. Notably, non-commercial organizations have been lauded as potential facilitators of improvements in labor standards through their capability to influence supply chain actors. Through an analysis of 45 semi-structured interviews across three cases, this research provides rich evidence of non-commercial organizations' contribution to governance linked to the persistence of labor exploitation. The findings reveal that the constraining factors of change capabilities of non-commercial organizations are (1) recognition of their limitations to enact improvements when their organizations are positioned in a heterogeneous supply chain context, (2) lack of a level playing field that provides a fair competitive environment to improve labor standards, and (3) labor deregulation. Similarly, the complex situation faced by non-commercial organizations created dilemmas that hindered progress in addressing labor exploitation. Governance inertia is an overarching issue that circumscribes the ambitions of non-commercial organizations to enhance labor standards. This research emphasizes the issues and challenges that constrain these uniquely placed organizations in facilitating positive change in global apparel supply chains.


Shirgholami, Z., Cole, R., & Aitken, J. (in press). Shifting the perspective on labor exploitation: Non-commercial organizations’ contribution toward supply chain governance. Journal of Supply Chain Management,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2024
Online Publication Date May 22, 2024
Deposit Date May 22, 2024
Publicly Available Date May 23, 2026
Journal Journal of Supply Chain Management
Print ISSN 1523-2409
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Case study; Governance; Labor exploitation; Non-commercial organizations; Supply chains
Public URL


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