• +49-(0)234 32-22418
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MERCUR Project

Political Authority in Transnational Governance Arrangements: Regulation through Public and Private Labour, Social and Environmental Standards in the Asian Textile and Apparel Industry

mercur-research-logo-300x54The textile and apparel industry is a prime example of a globalised value chain. As state-based regulation – either in the form of national law or public international law – is unable to effectively safeguard fundamental labour standards and internationally recognised rights at work or prevent damage to the environment along such a globalised production chain, a plethora of transnational standards has emerged, ranging from private regulation by purely business-driven initiatives to regulation by multi-stakeholder initiatives. Some of these initiatives are also discussed in the context of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The different types of transnational private and multi-stakeholder regulation do not stand in isolation. They interact in magnifold ways with classic state-based regulation on different policy levels (national, regional, global) and from different jurisdictions.

In an interdisciplinary research project entitled "Political Authority in Transnational Governance Arrangements" researchers from the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE) and the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) seek to analyse patterns of interaction of public and private regulation of labour, social and environmental standards in the textile and apparel industry in Bangladesh and Cambodia. The project aims to give a current empirical account of these governance arrangements. Therefore, insights are sought from interviews with various stakeholders in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Europe, such as government representatives, other public authorities, national and international organizations, representatives of enterprises and business associations, trade unions, workers, civil society organisations and academic experts. The project is financed by the German Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) for the period of two years.

The project combines a legal and a political science perspective. Researchers from the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) of the University Duisburg-Essen bring in a political science perspective, while legal expertise is contributed by IEE director Markus Kaltenborn, IEE research fellow Johannes Norpoth and Nina Geerkens from the Faculty of Law at the Ruhr-University Bochum. The project marks the first research cooperation between IEE and INEF under the roof of the UA Ruhr Graduate Center for Development Studies.

Related to its activities in the interdisciplinary research project, the IEE has joined the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles in January 2016.

{slider title="Approach" open="false"}
The project focuses on the interplay of different forms of political authority, namely state-based and private authority, in the regulation of labour, social and environmental standards in the textile and apparel industry in Bangladesh and Cambodia. The school of practice theories provides the specific lens for the empirical research. The empirical insights gathered during the field research in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Europe aim to deepen the understanding of the complex governance arrangements in the global textile and apparel industry which can be referred to as polycentric governance arrangements.
A second objective of the project is to establish a group of researchers from various disciplines, including law, political science, sociology and economics in order to prepare a research proposal on polycentric governance. The research results obtained during the project seek to contribute to this wider research proposal.

{slider title="Team"}
The research project is directed by Dr. Cornelia Ulbert, Executive Director of the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, and by Professor Markus Kaltenborn, Director of the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE) at the Ruhr-University Bochum. Next to the principal investigators the team of researchers comprises Christian Scheper (INEF), Johannes Norpoth (IEE) and Nina Geerkens (Faculty of Law of the Ruhr-University Bochum).

{slider title="Funding"}
The project is funded by the German Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) for the period from March 2015 to end of December 2017.

{slider title="Project News"}
The following articles featured in the IEE Newsletter report on recent project activities:

MERCUR Project on “Political Authority in Transnational Governance Arrangements” in the Home Stretch

Second Research Trip to Bangladesh in the Context of the MERCUR Project on Transnational Regulation of Labour Standards

IEE joins the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles


Institute of Development Research and Development
Ruhr University Bochum
Room 2.04
Universitaetsstr. 105
D-44789 Bochum
E-Mail: ieeoffice@rub.de
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-22418