Why do firms participate in the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile? A qualitative study into firm drivers for multi-stakeholder initiative participation

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Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) are increasingly recognized as an important vehicle to address social and environmental issues in global supply chains, such as garment supply chains. Until now, reasons for why actors participate in MSIs remained insufficiently addressed, which is especially the case for firm actors. Therefore this study focuses on firm drivers to participate in MSIs and the relative importance of these drivers. This is investigated in the context of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT), a recent MSI in the garment industry. This study followed a qualitative and abductive approach and employed a combination of conducting semi-structured interviews with CSR managers and analyzing CSR reports in order to gain a complete picture of firm drivers for AGT participation. By applying the Gioia method, this study found eight drivers for firm participation in the AGT: (1) intrinsic sense of responsibility, (2) coaching, (3) collaborative advantage, (4) networking, (5) self-interest, (6) fit between the MSI and CSR approach, (7) external influence and (8) reputation. From these drivers the intrinsic sense of responsibility and collaborative advantage were dominant, followed by a mix of relational and instrumental drivers. Keywords: multi-stakeholder initiative, drivers, transnational private governance, corporate social responsibility, garment industry
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