Global Supply Chains - Digital Tools Between Empowerment And Control

Sabrina Zajak, Akhil C S, Leonhard Dobusch, Lisa Basten

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New legislations aim at obliging multinational corporations to ensure good working conditions for people along global value chains. A key factor in bringing those laws to life is the empowerment of workers. We take a look at how digital tools and algorithmic prediction can contribute to (or hinder) that empowerment.
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Today, global supply chains are part of our economy’s DNA. As consumers, we rely on coffee, clothing or tech products being produced in disparate parts of the globe. We have all learned about the downside of this arrangement: it involves working conditions that are at odds with the standards of Western democracies. Current developments around international regulations are now forcing companies to audit social standards along their global supply chains. Are we on the brim of fair global production?

A complex matter. In our session we want to focus on the role digital technologies (might) play: How do digital technologies already empower workers along global supply chains in their transnational struggles for fairness? How do we distinguish between digital tools with actual potential to raise standards and those that primarily serve the ‘social washing’ of companies? Do AI prediction tools simply enhance control mechanisms or finally enable us to gather valid information on working conditions in global production sites?

Leonhard Dobusch (Foto: Ingo Pertramer, CC BY 4.0)
Professor für Organisation & Blogger
Ein Portaitfoto von Lisa Basten vor Berliner Kulisse.
Leitung der Forschungsstelle "Arbeit der Zukunft"