This article examines joint action initiatives among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing industries in developing countries in the context of the ascendancy of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the proliferation of a variety of international accountability tools and standards. Through empirical fieldwork in the football manufacturing industry of Jalandhar in North India, the article documents how local cluster-based SMEs stay coupled with the global CSR agenda through joint CSR initiatives focusing on child labor. Probing further, however, also reveals patterns of selective decoupling in relation to core humanitarian and labor rights issues. Through in-depth interviews with a wide range of stakeholders involved in the export-oriented football manufacturing industry of Jalandhar in North India, the article highlights the dynamics of coupling and decoupling taking place, and how developing country firms can gain credit and traction by focusing on high visibility CSR issues, although the plight of workers remains fundamentally unchanged. The authors revisit these findings in the discussion and concluding sections, highlighting the main research and policy implications of the analysis.
- Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
- Institutional theory
- Critical perspectives on CSR
- Selective decoupling
- Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)