Challenges of achieving social upgrading in Bangladesh’s apparel industry

Tarikul Islam, Christina Stringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Despite substantial economic upgrading, Bangladesh’s apparel industry remains confronted by claims of precarious working conditions. This paper aims to understand the challenges of achieving social upgrading and whether benefits of economic upgrading can transfer to workers and their dependents through
social upgrading.
Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 90 participants from six apparel firms in Bangladesh. The interviews were conducted following the Rana Plaza disaster.
Findings – The results suggest that social upgrading has not occurred to the same extent as economic upgrading. Social upgrading has been compromised in part, by the tiered factory system operating and a lack of governance within the lower tier firms.
Research limitations/implications – Single country and one industry constitute the main limitations of this research. Future research could include multiple countries and industries to allow for greater generalization of findings.
Originality/value – The paper provides new insights on how social upgrading might be compromised within the global value chains context and its impact on developing country supplier firms, workers and their families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-94
JournalSociety and Business Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018


  • Corporate governance, Corporate social responsibility, Business ethics, Organizational theory, Social responsibility, Global governance


Dive into the research topics of 'Challenges of achieving social upgrading in Bangladesh’s apparel industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this