Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia: Case Studies of Regulation and Execution in the Construction and Textile Industries

Photograph: Guy Freeman. Creative Commons.

According to the Global Slavery Index (GSI), workplaces in Asia are responsible for over 2/3 of global slavery and human trafficking. Not only are these numbers staggeringly high, they also allude to labour issues related to slavery and human trafficking, such as poor work safety.

To try and ensure that tragedies do not occur and that international agreed standards are respected, many corporations have so called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies, which vary per company in length, detail and topics.


This project aims to analyse the functioning of CSR in value chain responsibility in Asia, both on paper and in practice. This research aims at analysing case studies about the current state of CSR in South and East Asia, its best-practices and shortcomings, and what is needed for more effective and efficient CSR in the region.

This research, a joint effort of LeidenAsiaCentre and Mondiaal FNV, will focus on the policies of first tier suppliers/manufacturers, and, where possible, also second. Mondiaal FNV is not only expert in CSR regulations, it also has researchers and monitors in Asia, creating a hands-on research project with accessible source material.


To narrow the scope, this research will focus on two case studies within two sectors notorious for labour violations; construction and textile industry.

1. CSR and chain liability in regional projects in South Asia under the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank and the WorldBank
This pillar will focus on construction projects in South Asia set up by any of the above-mentioned banks, with a specific emphasis on project bids won by companies from Japan, China and South Korea. Many of the projects that the ADB, the AIIB and the WB finance, are won in bids by corporations in East Asia. East Asian presence in South Asia is enormous, so projects executed by East Asian companies will be one of the key prerequisites when picking case studies for the construction pillar, as these are often also the largest projects.

2. CSR and chain liability: the case of North Korean-made textiles/garments both within the country and abroad
The second pillar is a clear defined case study, which delves into the product chain of North Korean-made textile products, which are often sold as ‘made in China’. The garments are both made within North Korea, but also in Chinese factories that employee North Koreans. This case will investigate CSR responsibility in particular meeting international human rights obligations as laid out in the OECD guidelines for multinationals/UN Guiding principles.

Both pillars will regularly hold expert meetings, and a joint final conference open to the public, to discuss findings and implications.


This project is executed in collaboration with Mondiaal FNV and the Asser Institute, read more information about them on their websites.


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Published On: January, 2018