Conceptualising CSR in the context of the shifting contours of Australian employment regulation

Sarah Kaine, Chris F. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The changing structure of modern business poses challenges for employment regulation in Australia, which has historically relied upon an 'implicit' model of corporate social responsibility (CSR) (commonly associated with strong state-mandated protections). Traditionally, such regulation has privileged the direct employment relationship, but the dramatic expansion of insecure and non-standard employment arrangements, encouraged by the proliferation of complex supply chains, raises questions about the ongoing durability of this regulatory model to provide appropriate labour standards for a growing cohort of workers. In an attempt to preserve some semblance of implicit CSR, particularly the centrality of state involvement in determining and enforcing labour standards, some Australian unions have developed strategies to advance new forms of labour regulation. This article examines four such strategies based on the logic of 'sustainable sourcing' in the road transport, cleaning, textile clothing and footwear and aged care industries. Although these strategies can be understood as a broader form of implicit CSR transposed onto multiple firms in a supply chain, they represent a notable departure from traditional union regulatory strategies based on the logic of implicit CSR centred on the individual employer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-68
Number of pages15
JournalLabour and Industry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • corporate social responsibility
  • implicit CSR
  • trade unions
  • industrial relations
  • sustainable sourcing
  • supply chain governance
  • Australia


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