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Civil Society, the Moral Economy and Horizontal Governance of a Fishing GVC.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Hughes


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This paper is primarily empirical in focus, in that it addresses in a particular location and sector the local interaction of actors involved in, first, the governance of, and, second, the monitoring of, a global value chain (GVC). The location is New Zealand, and the sector is fishing. The case examines how a combination of local pressures, combining with knowledge and networks gained at the international level, brought about strong legislative intervention at national level in order to moderate substantially labour exploitation in a GVC. Moreover, the case highlights a clash within the governance of the GVC, particularly between fractions of capital, the one promoting a positive upgrading of labour standards (in which moral argument is conflated with economic rationality), the other applying a narrow business frame of reference in which labour standards are subordinated to the profit criterion. The clash between these two views – between a composite CSR/moral/economic rational vision and a strictly economic rational (business) vision – was visibly manifested as national debate through a combination of NGO and public pressure, and the influence of academic research. Government was forced to intervene in the GVC at the local level as a result and in the interests of the upgrading fraction. Further complexity arises in the case for, in other contexts, the upgrading fraction takes a different line in other value chains in which it operates.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stringer C, Haworth N, Hughes S

Editor(s): Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Unpublished

Conference Name: Moral Economies, Economic Moralities

Year of Conference: 2016

Pages: 18