Corporate Social Responsibility in the Electronics Manufacturing Industry: the Implications of ‘Soft Governance’ for Labor Standards
How do transnational corporate social responsibility standards influence and shape labor conditions in the electronics manufacturing industry in China and Taiwan?


This project asks how the actors and tools of global governance converge (or diverge) to regulate labor conditions in the electronics manufacturing industry in China and Taiwan. The contemporary configuration of transnational capitalism into complex supply chains – with branding, financial services and intellectual property managed in the ‘North’ while manufacturing and assembly is performed in the ‘South’ – is a much analyzed characteristic of our global era. In response to image-damaging anti-sweatshop campaigns, large brand names have taken up the call for ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) by creating industry-wide ‘corporate codes of conduct’ (CCC), intended to serve as minimum standards for labor and environmental rights throughout the production chain.

The rise of these forms of ‘soft law’ have led many to conclude that we are entering a new era of transnational governance in which soft, private and/or ‘flexible’ norms will increasingly displace ‘hard’ law and regulation. Through discourse analysis, interviews and ethnographic observation in one key transnational industry, electronics manufacturing, this project will document the ways in which transnational CSR labor standards are ‘localised’ at the various places where they are to be applied, and the variations in meaning and effects that arise from these localizing practices.

Project Keywords

  • Global governance


  • Anthropology
  • Development
  • Law
  • Sociology

Relevant Countries

  • China
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America


This project, started in 2010, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Ellen Hertz
University of Neuchâtel

Marylène Lieber
Principal Member
University of Neuchâtel

Cornelia Pillard
Associated Member
Georgetown University

Anne Posthuma
Associated Member
International Labour Organisation

Martin Ramstedt
Associated Member
Faculdade Max Planck

David Seligson
Associated Member
International Labour Organisation

Hong-zen Wang
Associated Member
National Sun Yat-Sen University