Parallel Paths to Enforcement: Private Compliance, Public Regulation, and Labor Standards in the Brazilian Sugar Sector

Salo Coslovsky, Richard Locke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In recent years, global corporations and national governments have been enacting a growing number of codes of conduct and public regulations to combat dangerous and degrading work conditions in global supply chains. At the receiving end of this activity, local producers must contend with multiple regulatory regimes, but it is unclear how these regimes interact and what results, if any, they produce. This article examines this dynamic in the sugar sector in Brazil. It finds that although private and public agents rarely communicate, let alone coordinate with one another, they nevertheless reinforce each other's actions. Public regulators use their legal powers to outlaw extreme forms of outsourcing. Private auditors use the trust they command as company insiders to instigate a process of workplace transformation that facilitates compliance. Together, their parallel actions block the low road and guide targeted firms to a higher road in which improved labor standards are not only possible but even desirable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-526
Number of pages30
JournalPolitics and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013



  • Brazil
  • Global supply chains
  • Labor inspectors
  • Labor standards
  • Private auditors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations

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