Comprising networked organizations that span advanced and developing countries, the athletic footwear sector is at the cutting edge of globalization. An important dimension of corporate responsibility is setting and maintaining labor standards for contractors' employees in countries where workers have little or no legal protection against exploitation. This article examines how adidas, the industry's number two firm, has utilized a code of labor practice to regulate the labor standards of its main manufacturing suppliers. A comparative analysis of a matched sample of two contractors in China shows that although the code requirements were met in both cases, relationships with adidas not only differed but also made a difference. Compared with compliance type relationships, collaborative global firm-contractor ties encourage higher workplace performance and better employment relations in contractor factories.
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