Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures

Rising Powers and Labour Standards in Global Production Networks - workshop banner June 2017

The ‘Rising Powers’, especially China, India and Brazil, have now become key players in the global economy. Yet, we still know too little about how these economies are engaging with and potentially shaping, the rules that govern international trade and global production, in particular global labour and social standards. For producers around the world, meeting international standards on social and environmental sustainability is increasingly critical. We are now more aware about the food we eat and how it came to our plates, or whether what we wear implied sweatshop labour. Nonetheless, gains from social compliance – especially for workers and poor producers – remain unclear. Expanding trade between the Rising Power economies, their growing domestic consumer markets and the emergence of leading firms from China, India and Brazil raise questions on how global standards will be shaped in the future, who the key drivers will be, and what implications arise for workers in both these emerging economies and throughout the global economy.

This workshop will present findings from work undertaken in Brazil, China, India and the EU, as part of an ESRC funded project on labour standards and the governance of global production networks. It also aims to bring together a wider community of academics and practitioners working on labour and sustainability standards in the global economy, but with a particular interest on the ‘Rising Powers’ and how they might sustain, challenge, or change the global discourse on labour and sustainability standards. Hence, we particularly invite proposals for papers around the following themes:

  • The emergence of rising power MNCs, their engagement with CSR and social standards, and the implications for global labour and social standards in global value chains
  • The role of innovation, CSR, and human rights in global value chains
  • The engagement of civil society actors in the rising powers with local and/or global CSR initiatives and social standards
  • Public labour regulation in Brazil, China and India and the engagement of these countries in the international institutions where trade rules on labour and social standards are defined
  • The implications of the rise of Brazil, China and India for labour and social standards in OECD and developing economies


  • Full paper submission: 12 May 2017 (max. 8,000 words excl. abstract, notes, references etc.) Papers will be circulated to discussants prior to the workshop.

Accommodation costs in Manchester will be covered for authors of accepted papers.