Article written by Daniel Berliner, DPDF 2012 Governing Global Production Fellow Anne Regan Greenleaf, Milli Lake, SSRC Board Member Margaret Levi, and Jennifer Noveck, featured in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Volume 11:
Research on labor rights in global supply chains has made considerable progress over the last decade towards achieving a holistic understanding of the myriad actors, interests, and relationships involved, but numerous obstacles remain to building a more cumulative research program. In this essay we outline two major challenges and several fruitful directions forward. First, we review the different outcomes of interest in research on labor rights and highlight several tensions that lead to difficulty comparing findings across studies, inappropriate data choices, and unexamined causal assumptions. Second, we highlight a failure to adequately integrate the findings of research in two different sub-literatures: one focusing on the incentives of states and firms, and a second focusing on the implementation of those reforms with monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. We conclude by highlighting the important questions raised by a clearer integration of these two literatures, and several recent studies that begin to answer them.