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Layna Mosley
Global Supply Chains, Trade Agreements and Labor Rights: Evidence from Vietnam
Thursday, April 26, 2018, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Avenue, Room 120
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Ingrid Hehmeyer

Layna Mosley is professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research and teaching focus on international and comparative political economy, as well as international relations generally.  Her research focuses on the connections between the global economy and domestic policy outcomes. Some of her work examines the effect of multinational production on workers’ rights in developing countries, as well as the ways in which U.S. trade policies might affect workers’ rights abroad. With respect to labor rights, she is also interested in efforts at private sector governance, such as the Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety. Another stream of research focuses on the politics of sovereign debt, and on how professional investors evaluate and react to political institutions and government policy choices.
Abstract
Under what conditions does the global economy serve as a means for the diffusion of labor standards and practices? We anticipate variation among internationally engaged firms in their propensity to improve labor standards. Upgrading is most likely when a firm’s products exhibit significant cross-market differences in markups, making accessing high-standards overseas markets particularly profitable. Additionally, upgrading is more likely when lead firms attach a high salience to labor standards. Therefore, while participation in global production induces “trading up” behaviors among firms overall, the effect strength varies across industries. We test our expectations via a survey experiment, which queries foreign firms operating in Vietnam about their willingness to invest in labor-related upgrading. We find strong evidence for the effect of markups on upgrading choices and suggestive evidence for the saliency mechanism.

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