School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Insights from Indonesia
    Rosser, A ; Macdonald, K ; Setiawan, KMP (JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV PRESS, 2022-02-01)
    Following the endorsement of the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011, attention has shifted towards challenges of implementation. Through detailed analysis of the case of Indo-nesia, this article analyses the conditions under which implementation oc-curs and explores strategies for strengthened implementation. While UNGP implementation has often been argued to depend on strong collaborative learning networks, we demonstrate instead that power balances between rights coalitions and politico-business and technocratic elites have proved decisive—implementation varying across sectors and over time depending on configurations of market power, histories of rights struggles, and patterns of high-level political support.
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    Private sustainability standards as tools for empowering southern pro-regulatory coalitions? Collaboration, conflict and the pursuit of sustainable palm oil
    Macdonald, K (Elsevier, 2020-01-01)
    The social and environmental impact of commodity production in the global south is now governed by an array of global market-driven standard-setting schemes, which interact with state-centred legal and administrative governance ‘on the ground’ in producing countries. Drawing on a case study of contested regulatory governance in the Indonesian palm oil sector, this paper investigates the effects of interactions between (northern) market-based and (southern) state-centred regulatory authorities. Analysis shows that it is not the collaborative or conflictual character of governance interactions that matters most in shaping regulatory capacity, but rather how such interactions influence the motivations, capacities and legitimacy claims of competing regulatory coalitions within commodity producing jurisdictions. While conflictual pathways of regulatory empowerment can sometimes be productive, their effects on destabilizing power relations between elite and marginalised actors in producing countries render them distinctively vulnerable to legitimacy challenges from incumbent powerholders. This generates dilemmas for global regulators, whose efforts to influence change through strategies of empowering southern pro-regulatory coalitions are subject to challenge from competing coalitions of southern actors.
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    Obstacles to implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Southeast Asia
    Macdonald, K (Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, 2020)
    In June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously passed the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), amidst an atmosphere of cautious optimism. These principles provided a new set of global standards for preventing and addressing adverse human rights impacts associated with business activity, and have been described as ‘the single most important innovation in the human rights and business field in the last 25 years’. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand—members of the UNHRC at the time the UNGPs were adopted—all voted in support of the framework, and several governments in the region subsequently indicated a potential willingness to develop National Action Plans to guide implementation. Nonetheless, almost ten years since the endorsement of the UNGPs, their implementation within Southeast Asia has remained slow and uneven.
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    Pandemics, politics and principles: business and human rights in Southeast Asia in a time of crisis.
    Rosser, A ; MacDonald, K ; Setiawan, K (Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, 2020)
    Business activity has been a key driver of economic dynamism in Southeast Asia and one of the main reasons for the region’s growing prosperity in recent decades. It has led to increases in investment and consumption, boosted exports and, in so doing, promoted economic growth. This has in turn created jobs, improved incomes, increased governments’ ability to provide social welfare, and lifted millions out of poverty.
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    Towards a 'pluralist' world order: creative agency and legitimacy in global institutions
    Macdonald, T ; Macdonald, K (SAGE Publications, 2020-06-01)
    This article addresses the question of how we should understand the normative grounds of legitimacy in global governance institutions, given the social and organizational pluralism of the contemporary global political order. We argue that established normative accounts of legitimacy, underpinning both internationalist and cosmopolitan institutional models, are incompatible with real-world global social and organizational pluralism, insofar as they are articulated within the parameters of a ‘statist’ world order imaginary: this sees legitimacy as grounded in rational forms of political agency, exercised within ‘closed’ communities constituted by settled common interests and identities. To advance beyond these statist ideational constraints, we elaborate an alternative ‘pluralist’ world order imaginary: this sees legitimacy as partially grounded in creative forms of political agency, exercised in the constitution and ongoing transformation of a plurality of ‘open’ communities, with diverse and fluid interests and identities. Drawing on a case study analysis of political controversies surrounding the global governance of business and human rights, we argue that the pluralist imaginary illuminates how normative legitimacy in world politics can be strengthened by opening institutional mandates to contestation by multiple distinct collectives, even though doing so is incompatible with achieving a fully rationalized global institutional scheme.
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    The politics of norm domestication in private transnational business regulation: A typology and illustrations
    MacDonald, K (Wiley, 2020)
    Scholars and practitioners of global private business regulation have often recognised the importance of political and institutional dynamics “on the ground,” in shaping the degree to which social and environmental regulatory norms are institutionalised or resisted at the local level. Local dynamics of norm contestation generate dilemmas for global regulators who aspire to be responsive to varied contexts in producing countries without “watering down” global regulatory agendas. Drawing on a range of empirical illustrations from Southeast Asia and Latin America, this paper develops a typology of domestication strategies currently being used by global private regulators and examines the effects of these strategies on supporting or undermining the overall values and purposes of global regulatory agendas. In the presence of pervasive local contestation surrounding global regulatory norms, norm domestication strategies are shown to offer important means of countering challenges to the power and legitimacy of global regulators. Nonetheless, the effects of such strategies remain highly contingent on path‐dependent contests between competing regulatory coalitions at both local and global levels.
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    Resource governance and norm domestication in the developing world
    Macdonald, K ; Nem Singh, J (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020-01-01)
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    Regulating sustainable minerals in electronics supply chains: local power struggles and the 'hidden costs' of global tin supply chain governance
    Diprose, R ; Kurniawan, N ; Macdonald, K ; Winanti, P (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2020-09-02)
    Voluntary supply chain regulation has proliferated in recent decades in response to concerns about the social and environmental impacts of global production and trade. Yet the capacity of supply chain regulation to influence production practices on the ground has been persistently questioned. Through empirical analysis of transnational regulatory interventions in the Indonesian tin sector—centered on a multi-stakeholder Tin Working Group established by prominent global electronics brands—this paper explores the challenges and limits of voluntary supply chain governance as it interacts with an entrenched ‘extractive settlement’ in Indonesia’s major tin producing islands of Bangka and Belitung. Although the Tin Working Group has introduced localized initiatives to tackle issues such as worker safety and improved land rehabilitation, it has also contributed in diffuse and largely unintended ways to consolidating the power of political and economic elites who benefit from centralized control over resource extraction. In this sense, supply chain governance has generated ‘hidden costs’ through unintended effects on power struggles between competing social groups at national and sub-national levels—generating marginal benefits for ameliorating specific regulatory ‘problems’, while consolidating and reproducing barriers to deeper transitions towards inclusive or sustainable regimes of extractive governance.
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    Grappling with injustice: Corporate crime, multinational business and interrogation of law in context
    Haines, F ; Macdonald, K (SAGE Publications, 2021)
    This article interrogates criminological ambivalence towards law as both essential in the control of corporate crime and as an enabler of corporate harm. It argues we can make sense of such tensions by seeing law—in its plurality of soft and hard forms—as constituent elements within multiple fields of struggle, in which laws operate as tools wielded to influence contested rules, and as rules governing regulatory struggles. This argument is developed by bringing criminological analyses of the law’s role in business facilitation and regulatory enforcement together with sociological analyses of ‘fields of struggle’. The value of this approach in illuminating law’s ambiguous role in relation to corporate harm is illustrated through two cases of multinational business activity in Indonesia.
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    Nonjudicial business regulation and community access to remedy
    Haines, F ; Macdonald, K (Wiley, 2020)
    Redress for communities harmed by transnational business activity remains elusive. This paper examines community efforts to access redress for human rights-related harms via recourse to transnational nonjudicial mechanisms (NJMs) – a prevalent but widely debated instrument of transnational business regulation. Drawing together insights from theoretical debates surrounding nonjudicial regulation and evidence from a major empirical study of human rights redress claims in Indonesia and India, the paper explores the conditions under which NJMs can support community access to remedy. Three conditions are shown to be central in enabling some degree of NJM effectiveness: the institutional design of regulatory strategies, the institutional empowerment of regulatory institutions, and social empowerment of affected communities and their supporters. While all three conditions are required in some measure to underpin effective NJM interventions, these conditions can be combined in varying ways in different contexts to underpin either top–down or bottom–up pathways to redress. The former derives its primary influence from institutional authority and capacity, while the latter relies more heavily on diffuse societal leverage in support of community claims. These findings have significant implications for theoretical debates about the capacity and limits of nonjudicial regulatory approaches to support human rights redress within decentered contexts of transnational regulation where both regulatory power and agency are widely diffused.