UMB OSC group at conference on Inequality, Institutions and Organizations in Vancouver

By Ed Carberry, David Levy, Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, Suhaib Riaz, Mary Still.

The Organizations and Social Change (OSC) research group at UMass-Boston had a strong presence at a recently held conference on “Inequality, Institutions and Organizations” at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. The conference was organized by John Amis (Memphis), Tom Lawrence (Simon Fraser) and Kamal Munir (Cambridge) and featured guest discussants such as Jerry Davis (Michigan), Steve Barley (Stanford) and Pam Tolbert (Cornell) among others.

Research related to inequality comprises a key area of interest for several scholars in the OSC group at UMass-Boston and their strong presence at Vancouver highlighted their various ongoing projects. The UMB OSC group had the highest number of participants from any one institution and they were also amongst those called upon to summarize the work in their respective streams. Continue reading

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The Fashion Trap: Why Fairtrade Works in Coffee but not in Clothing

By Stephan Manning.

The recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh was devastating. Over 400 mostly young female workers died; over a hundred are still missing. An ‘accident’ that would be unthinkable in the U.S. or Western Europe. Prior concerns about the building conditions (including a large crack) had been ignored – by the owner, by government officials and global buyers. Whether or not clients, such as Benetton, Cato Fashions, Primark, Mango and Joe Fresh, actually knew about the situation is not important. The fact however that they did not make sure – even after a series of recent fires with hundreds of casualties in similar factories, such as the Tazreen factory – that basic safety standards many of us take for granted are met and followed up on is revealing. After decades of protest and campaigns by ILO and international NGOs, such as the Clean Clothes Campaign, it seems that the global fashion industry has not even managed to secure very basic health and safety conditions for garment workers in major producing countries. Continue reading

After the Decline of Large U.S. Corporations: Where Do the New Giants Come from?

By Stephan Manning.

The latest Forbes 2000 Rankings leave no doubt: Large corporations continue to exist (and they grow even larger), but fewer than ever originate in the U.S. Among the Top 10 listed firms (in terms of sales, profits, assets, and market value) four are Chinese – including the first and second ranked Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank. So is it really true that large corporations are collapsing, as Gerald Davis and Israel Drori suggest in their provocative article? Or are we simply witnessing the declining relevance of U.S.-based firms? Should we, in turn, just focus on the continuous power of Western multinationals in global production networks, as David Levy suggests in his related post, or is there another important dynamic: the gradual but certain shift of gravity from U.S., European and Japanese firms to new giants from BRIC countries – China, India, Russia and Brazil – and other emerging economies? Continue reading