Corporate social responsibility in the global apparel industry: an exploration of Indian manufacturers' perceptions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Megha Gupta (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Nancy Hodges

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explore perceptions of corporate social responsibility among Indian apparel manufacturers. In last few decades, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has marked its importance in scholarly research as evidenced by an increasing number of articles and journals dedicated to the topic (Dirnach, 2008). This increase in popularity is a result of globalization and international trade (Jamali & Mirshak, 2006), as the era of globalization has meant that many apparel retailers do not own production factories, but have divested their manufacturing in favor of outsourced production. Availability of inexpensive labor and low production costs make developing countries attractive outsourcing locations. For this reason, India is emerging as one of the major players in the global apparel supply chain. The country's textile and clothing industry contributes significantly to its export earnings, comprising approximately 14% of its total industrial production (Ministry of Textiles, 2009). This sector employs about 35 million people, making it the second largest provider of jobs in India after agriculture (Ministry of Textiles, 2009). A qualitative research design was employed, and a multi-method approach, including depth interviews, observation and secondary data was used to collect data in India. Twenty-six industry professionals working in the Indian apparel industry were interviewed, including 20 males and 6 females. Participants' job titles ranged from merchandiser, designer, and production manager, to divisional merchandise manager. Five factories in New Delhi and the Neighboring Capital Region were observed and eleven Indian apparel manufacturers' websites were reviewed for CSR-related content. Data were analyzed for commonalities and differences that surfaced across participants' experiences, which were then used to structure a thematic interpretation. Seven key issues help to define CSR and articulate its role in the Indian apparel sector: (1) What is CSR?, (2) Benefits of CSR, (3) Challenges of CSR, (4) A Question of Responsibility, (5) A Matter of Size, (6) The Role of Auditing, and (7) Moving Forward with CSR. The Normative Stakeholder Theory and the Three Domain Model of CSR were used to guide the analysis and interpretation of results. Results indicate that Indian apparel firms are gradually moving toward implementing CSR, but that full integration is happening very slowly. India has emerged as a major hub of apparel production within the global supply chain. Despite the growing demands for corporate social responsibility, little research has been done to understand its role in developing countries such as India. This study is one of the first to focus specifically on the labor intensive Indian apparel industry as a context for CSR and to examine what CSR means in India today. As such, it provides a real-world understanding of the benefits and challenges involved in implementing CSR in a non-western country, while pointing to the need for more research on the importance of CSR throughout the entire supply chain.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Apparel, Corporate social responsibility, India, Manufacturers
Clothing trade $z India
Social responsibility of business $z India

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