Authors: Michael J. Hiscox, Claire Schwartz, and Michael W. Toffel
Full Working Paper Text
Working Paper Publication Date: May 2008
HBS Working Paper Number: 08-097
The Social Accountability 8000 Standard (SA 8000), along with other types of certification standards and corporate codes of conduct, represents a new form of voluntary "private-governance" of working conditions in the private sector, initiated and implemented by companies, labor unions, and nongovernmental activist groups cooperating together. There is an ongoing debate about whether this type of governance represents real and substantial progress or mere symbolism. This paper reviews prior evaluations of private codes of conduct governing workplace conditions, including Ethical Trading Initiative's Base Code, Nike's Code of Conduct, and Fair Trade certification. The authors then discuss several best practices that should be employed in future evaluations of such codes of conduct.