Managerial moral agency and wider institutional factors in the enactment of workplace safety practices

Chowdhury, Muhammad Faisol (2022) Managerial moral agency and wider institutional factors in the enactment of workplace safety practices. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The apparel production industry has become a springboard for economic growth and is the typical starter industry in several low-income, highly populated developing nations. This study was focused on the apparel factories located in Bangladesh—an emerging nation of the Global South where the apparel industry has recently faced a severe image crisis and has become the subject of great concern due to its substandard working conditions and safety violations. Hence, it has become a matter of urgency for such sector to undergo a workplace safety makeover suited to deal with this unnerving situation and to gain and strengthen consumer confidence, which is crucial to building a more reliable ‘manufacturer-retailerconsumer’ relationship.

The extant literature has adequately addressed factory working conditions and workplace safety issues, thus aiding our understanding of the reasons that have led to accidents and their adverse effect on the people involved in the sector. However, these studies have stopped short of shedding light on the aspect of the attitudes that lead supplier factory managers to behave in a certain manner—i.e., engage in compliance or avoidance of safety provisions. Therefore, this study sought to both theoretically and empirically understand such managers’ moral agency in relation to workplace safety practices and how wider institutional factors can influence managerial attitudes towards safety. The fieldwork was conducted in Bangladesh, collecting qualitative data mainly by conducting semi-structured interviews.

The interviews were supported and validated by data collected from non-participant observations. The data were then subjected to thematic analysis. Bandura’s moral disengagement theoretical lens was adopted for this investigation. The empirical findings revealed some interesting and unique wider institutional factors that significantly influence and shape managerial moral agency towards safety. While Bandura’s moral disengagement theory appears to be capable of capturing immoral behaviour at the individual level, it shows its limitations to do so in a collective construct, as was evidenced in this study. Therefore, a moral agency spectrum consisting of four salient agency types is proposed as an extension of the theory in order to investigate moral agency in social and organisational settings. This study makes several empirical contributions to knowledge. It provides insights into the business ethics literature in applying the concept of moral agency in the investigation of safety practices in apparel factories of global supply chains. document. In the process, it documents the lived experiences of individual actors embedded in the supply chain network and contributes to our understanding of the potential causes of the apparel industry’s poor safety records which carries policy implications.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow, for the College Scholarship and other fundings; The Charles Wallace Bangladesh Trust for the Bursary.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Hurrell, Dr. Scott and McMaster, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83284
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2022 11:33
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2022 12:21
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83284

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