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The Role of SMEs in Global Production Networks: A Swedish SME’s Payment of Living Wages at its Indian Supplier

Journal article
Authors Niklas Egels-Zandén
Published in Business & Society
Volume 56
Issue 1
Pages 92–129
ISSN 0007-6503
Publication year 2017
Published at Centre for Retailing
Centre for Business in Society
Department of Business Administration, Management & Organisation
Pages 92–129
Language en
Keywords codes of conduct, global production networks, India, living wage, private regulation, SMEs
Subject categories Business Administration


Anti-sweatshop activists have turned global production networks (GPNs) into contested organizational fields. While this has triggered the growth of an extensive literature on contested GPNs, the scholarly conversation is still limited in two important ways: first, it ignores or dismisses the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in GPNs and, second, it assumes that firms are driven solely by rational profit-maximizing motives. Based on a study of a Swedish SME’s payment of living wages at its Indian supplier, this paper addresses these limitations by demonstrating how SMEs’ peculiarities allow them to assume a distinct role in contested GPNs. Furthermore, this paper contributes to the scholarly conversation about living wages by providing a much-needed move beyond conceptual discussions into empirical studies of the underlying tradeoffs of paying living wages.

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