PhD collaborative studentship, ESRC, QMUL, UK

Please see below outline details regarding a new PhD collaborative studentship funding opportunity (in association with Electronics Watch), via the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London and the ESRC London Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership.
We’d be grateful if you could bring this to the attention of any potential applicants:
Circuits of Global Labour Governance: Public Procurement and Labour Standards in the Global Electronics Industry

Academic Lead: Professor Adrian Smith, QMUL

Co-Supervisor: Dr Gale Raj-Reichert, QMUL

Partner: Electronics Watch 

Funding: LISS-DTP ESRC Collaborative Studentship, +3 (PhD) or 1+3 (MRes, followed by PhD)

Application deadline: 23 February 2018

Project description:

The globalisation of supply chains has created a governance deficit concerning working conditions in the world economy. Private-sector initiatives (corporate social responsibility and codes of conduct) face limits to improving labour standards. Yet, little attention has been paid to public sector attempts to regulate working conditions in global supply chains. An EU Directive on Public Procurement, however, allows state organisations to include clauses on labour standards in procurement contracts. In this context, this project will examine socially responsible public procurement of electronics hardware - an industry mired by serious labour violations – and focuses on the state as a regulator and buyer. The research will be carried out with Electronics Watch, a non-profit, non-governmental initiative which organises public sector buyers, provides tools to create effective market demand for decent working conditions (e.g. contract clauses), and monitors working conditions to ensure compliance in factories. The project will examine: how the EU Directive is being implemented by public-sector buyers in the United Kingdom; how the governance framework impacts lead firm and supplier relationships in the sector; and the experience of public procurement regulation as an emergent new relationship between the state, public sector governance and labour conditions in globalised production networks.

In terms of research methods, the project will involve key informant interviews with one or more public procurement agencies in the United Kingdom; a mapping of the legal framework for labour standards in public procurement, and its implementation in the contracts will be conducted; key informant interviews with one of the top three electronic brand firms at its headquarter location and with the brand firm’s major suppliers in Malaysia; interviews will also be conducted with local monitoring organisations, trade unions, and workers in Malaysia; secondary data from audit and monitoring reports will be analysed to provide contextual data.

Applications must be made through the LISS DTP website. Please do not hesitate to contact the academic leads Professor Adrian Smith [] and Dr Gale Raj-Reichert [] to discuss the details of the proposed project.

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