Research Project 1: Business cases of CSR in the RMG sector

Although the debate about the urgency and depth of the transformation to reach higher levels of CSR in the RMG sector intensified since 2013, some companies in Bangladesh already prove that it is possible to combine good CSR practices and a sound financial performance already for many years. This research focuses on about 10 of these top-performing RMG factories in order to address: What mechanisms result in their business case for CSR? Are there different models to create a business case for CSR? And what internal and external conditions support the creation of these business cases?

Research Project 2: Benchmarking the RMG sector

Project 1 focuses on the top 10 companies in relation to CSR. This creates the impression that the other companies are not performing in relation to CSR, which is of course not true. Therefore this project aims to develop a norm for CSR that can be applied to all RMG factories in Bangladesh in order to create a ranking. For the first stage of the project about 50 to 100 factories should be included, resulting in a positive spiral for other companies to be included too.

Research Project 3: Mapping the drivers for transformational change

The previous projects all focus on the factories in the RMG sector and might involve stakeholders as part of the interventions or ranking activities. This project has its main focus on all stakeholders that should fulfil a role in the transformation of the RMG sector. Based on interviews and an annual survey the perception of these stakeholders on the role of the different parties in the transformation of the RMG sector is measured as well as their main view on the barriers for CSR. By performing a gap analysis on these stakeholder perceptions it becomes visible what drivers will fuel the transformation according to the ‘dominant coalition of stakeholders’.

Research Project 4: Effectiveness of CSR interventions

It is the assumption behind this programme that the appropriate interventions can result in an increase of the CSR performance of RMG factories and create therefore a positive stimulus for the transformation of the RMG sector. It is the aim of this project to apply these interventions to a limited number of companies in an action-research programme. The performance will be measured at the beginning and end of this programme. This project will focus on about 10 companies who don’t have a high CSR performance yet, but have the ambition to take this to a higher level.

Research Project 5: Equality at the work place

Women empowerment, SRHR issues and gender equality are also aspects included in the previous projects. However due to the cultural embededness and importance of these topics we also decided to initiate a separate project on these topics. The main goal of this project is to develop specific knowledge on the current state of affairs and drivers for change in relation to gender equality, women empowerment and SRHR issues. The outcomes of this project will both be used in the other research projects like the benchmarking of RMG factories (project 2) and the drivers for transformational change (project 4) as well as stand-alone publications about these topics.