Monday, November 14, 2011

Exploitation for Statistics

At this year’s conference of the Strategic Management Society, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a former professor from mainland China. We soon engaged in a lively discussion about the various purposes of value creation for a firm. It turned out that she was a very adamant advocate of the view that a firm’s value creation should bring wellbeing to all individuals engaged in this value creation process. Indeed, she confirmed that this is a lack for many employees in China. Foxconn seems to be just the most famous example of innumerable unknown companies treating their employees in a similar fashion –or worse (for more information on this case, see also our book “Sustainable Success with Stakeholders – The Untapped Potential”, Chapter 7, P. 14.).
It is a biting irony that this tendency of employee exploitation is exacerbated by the Chinese government’s policy objective of creating employment for the Chinese population. The quantitative measure of raising the employability rate clearly matters more to the Chinese government than the quality of the conditions under which these employees will have to work under.
Taken by this outspoken critique of the celebrated success story that China is known for, I asked her if I could get some of her papers about specific cases of worker exploitation.
The answer was no.
She explained that she was not allowed to reveal her sources, because her interview partners are afraid of reprisals. Regrettably, however, without transparency of sources and methods, no paper will be accepted by a peer-reviewed journal. Therefore she refrained from writing a paper.
In stakeholder management we call stakeholders such as these employees “silent voices”. Let’s give these people a voice – also without a source!

Sybille Sachs

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