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The 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.


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.


The project was funded by the German Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR).
The project started in March 2015 and ended in December 2017.


Mondré Aletta; Niemann, Holger; Scheper, Christian; Ulbert, Cornelia (2017): Praktiken der Verantwortungszuschreibung: Transnationale Regelsetzung und politische Autorität privater Unternehmen. In: Christopher Daase, Julian Junk, Stefan Kroll und Valentin Rauer (Hg.): Politik und Verantwortung: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, 358–382.

Norpoth, Johannes (2017): The Mutually Agreed Solution Between Indonesia and the United States in US – Clove Cigarettes: A Case of Efficient Breach (or Power Politics)? In: Giovanna Adinolfi, Freya Baetens, José Caiado, Angela Lupone und Anna G. Micara (Hg.): International Economic Law, Bd. 41. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 129–147.

Scheper, Christian (2017): Corporate Due Diligence: A Contribution to the Enforcement of Human Rights? In: Christoph Scherrer (Hg.): Enforcement instruments for social human rights along supply chains. Augsburg, München: Rainer Hampp Verlag (Labor and Globalization, Volume 9), 186–207.

Scheper, Christian (2017): Labour Networks under Supply Chain Capitalism: The Politics of the Bangladesh Accord. In: Development and Change 48 (5), 1069–1088.

Scheper, Christian (2019): Assessing human rights impacts in global value chains: Can HRIA go beyond social audits in the apparel industry? In: Nora Götzmann (Hg.): Handbook on Human Rights Impact Assessment: Edward Elgar Publishing, 256–271.

Scheper, Christian (2019): Menschenrechte als private Legitimitätspolitik. In: ZIB 26 (1), 5–27.

Scheper, Christian (2019): The business of responsibility: Supply chain practice and the construction of the moral lead firm. In: Cornelia Ulbert, Peter Finkenbusch, Elena Sondermann und Tobias Debiel (Hg.): Moral agency and the politics of responsibility. First issued in paperback. London, New York: Routledge (Routledge global cooperation series), 122–134.

Zajak, Sabrina; Scheper, Christian (2019): The Dual Nature of Transparency: Corporatization and Democratization of Global Production Networks. In: Stefan Berger und Dimitrij Owetschkin (Hg.): Contested Transparencies, Social Movements and the Public Sphere. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements), 211–232. 


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