Private governance responsibilisation in global supply chains: the case of Rana Plaza

Javed Siddiqui, Ken McPhail, Sharmin Shabnam Rahman

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Purpose: The paper explores the emergence of private sector responsibilisation for tackling governance issues in a global supply chain. The infamous case of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh is used to investigate the ways a frameshift, triggered by a manmade disaster, can potentially influence the effectiveness of the certification process in a research site characterised by the presence of a strong state-business nexus. Design/methodology/approach: The empirical work for this paper is based 24 semi-structured interviews with owners, managers, operators, independent inspectors in the ready-made garments (RMG) industry in Bangladesh between 2014 and 2018. We also analyse a range of archival materials. For the purpose of data analysis, we adopted an exploratory flexible pattern matching design with nested template analysis (Sinkovics et al., 2019). Findings: Our analysis suggests that the magnitude of the Rana Plaza collapse triggered several frameshifts in multinational corporations approach towards labour governance in Bangladesh. Subsequently, a responsibility framework for the private sector was created, resulting in significant improvements in working conditions in the sector. However, the sustainability of the labour governance mechanisms was significantly affected by the state's ability to play the role of catalyst in the process, mainly due to the presence of a significant state-business nexus. Originality/value: We find that broadening the scope of sustainability accounting and assurance process can allow social auditors to play a more meaningful role in triggering collective actions to address labour governance issues in supply chains. However, in a context defined by the presence of a state-business nexus, the sustainability of such a process largely depends on the willingness of the state to play the role of a catalyst.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1594
Number of pages26
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number7
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020


  • Certification
  • Governance
  • Political
  • Social accounting
  • Supply chain
  • Sustainability


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