Analysis of the Ethical (and Aesthetic) Framework and Its Relation to Corporate Social Responsibility: The Case of the Textile Industry

Analysis of the Ethical (and Aesthetic) Framework and Its Relation to Corporate Social Responsibility: The Case of the Textile Industry

Arturo Luque (Technical University of Ambato, Ecuador & Euro‐Mediterranean Observatory on Public Policies and Democratic Quality, Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1859-5.ch015


The objective of this research is not to produce a treatise on corporate social responsibility (CSR), but to go to a deeper level, exploring its evolution, analyzing its context, and providing a snapshot of its application and deployment in the textile sector. This study analyzes the functioning of transnational textile companies and their relationship with a favorable regulatory framework, together with their adaptation to globalization processes designed to promote their interests. This sector is characterized by elevated levels of textile production that place great demand on resources, which in turn triggers effects on the markets, environment, and working conditions in the contexts in which they operate. The exploration of this new field of legal asymmetry is necessary in order to identify its implications and to generate certainty in a large part of society. The conclusion examines the future outlook and possible consequences of emerging developments in the transnational textile sector.
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The study of the transnational textile sector may be undertaken from different disciplinary perspectives, which is both a desirable approach and helps to exemplify the complex network of agents and relationships that are involved in this area. As a result, it is necessary to identify these interconnections and overlapping business interests, as well as those of the various states and supranational bodies that are implicated in textile production. In a first analysis, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO, 2018), the total value of global exports of goods increased by 11% in 2017, reaching a volume of 17.73 trillion USD, of which total apparel and textile products represented approximately 4%. Within the textile industry, China continues to be the leading exporter, with 37% of total global exports. The list of the 10 principal textile exporters, measured in billions of US dollars, comprises China (110); the 28 states of the European Union (69); India (17); the USA (14); Turkey (11); South Korea (10); Taiwan (9); Pakistan (8); Hong Kong (8); and Vietnam (7), which illustrates the worldwide importance of the textile sector and the context in which it develops. According to Ryder (2015):

Our world has changed a great deal in the last century—and not only in terms of technology. By 2050, the world population will exceed 9 billion. The number of people over the age of 60 will have tripled. Three quarters of the elderly will live in what are currently referred to as developing countries, and most of these will be women. These demographic changes will further revolutionize labor markets, social security systems, economic development, and the world of work.

The breadth of the contributory processes involved in transnational textile production, which cut across almost all sectors, has great bearing on the conduct of governments, corporate directors, supranational bodies and legislatures, and even on the purchasing decisions of consumers (Luque, 2017). In this last respect, there is a wide-reaching stimulation of demand for fashion and glamour for which transnational corporations (TNCs) have established a global structure of production (Lipovetsky, 1987). Each individual is different and textile companies are acutely aware of this. The development of luxury, premium or low-cost fashion is no longer a mutually exclusive business. Currently, the same consumer is able to purchase one haute couture design by Balmain, another by the same designer made for H&M and, at the same time, a three-euro T-shirt of no particular brand (Fletcher, 2010; Jin, Jung, Matthews, & Gupta, 2012). Table 1, Classification, sets out the principal areas of interest involved in the textile sector, grouped into the four dimensions: economic, environmental, legal and social.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transnational Corporation: An enterprise that has subsidiaries in one or more countries distinct from that of the parent company, developing, as a result, an economic, social, diplomatic, commercial, institutional, legal or political infrastructure in order to produce goods or provide services. In addition, the parent company typically holds a minimum 10% stake in the foreign subsidiary.

Legalized Corruption: Dishonest processes that, both by act and omission, contribute to the demoralization of the individual and of all kinds of public and private organizations by benefitting these through regulatory protection based on the abuse of authority, conventions, legal vacuums, impunity, etc.

Lobby: A pressure group composed of a variety of members (from different backgrounds, cultures, languages, companies, sectors, etc.) with the common purpose of achieving an agreed objective that favors their interests. Approaches such as negotiation, pressuring and networking are employed in order to force a change in legislation, regulations, projects etc., to the benefit of the group. To this end, lobbies typically employ the services of think tanks, law firms, foundations, associations, former politicians, etc.

Corporate Social Irresponsibility: The premeditated and poorly judged decisions taken in order to obtain a benefit that, while legal, are immoral in certain contexts.

Corporate Social Responsibility: A code of internal conduct developed by all types of companies and organizations (municipal authorities, national governments, NGOs, etc.) that includes a set of voluntary rules and principles based on ethical values and responsible actions to be reflected in the behavior of employees, company directors and other interested parties.

Double Standard: Application of one set of rules to certain situations and, to others, another set that is either the opposite, or sufficiently different that this may not be construed as mere oversight. The double standard typically benefits one group and harms another, as in the case of a company that uses higher environmental standards in one country while, in another, producing greater levels of pollution to perform the same industrial activity, taking advantage of weak regulation and, in many cases, exploiting high levels of corruption.

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