Juliane Reinecke (University of Warwick), 6 Jun. 2017:

Experimental institution building: How innovative governance emerged in responce to Rana Plaza

How do new global regulatory institutions emerge to govern adverse human rights impacts of global supply chains? Developing country contexts often suffer from a lack of well-established and functioning institutions and governance structures to prevent widespread human rights violations. Institution-building is complicated by strategic uncertainty resulting from increasingly complex webs of transnational, inter-organizational relationships, the wickedness of problems and multiplicity of actors involved, which has overwhelmed conventional hierarchical governance. We use a pragmatist approach to examine how actors negotiated and implemented an institutional innovation, the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster. We show how actors cycle through processes of problem solving, reflexivity and deliberative bargaining as they build and embed new governance institutions in local environments amidst strategic uncertainty, complexity, and resistance. Rather than institutional creation or reproduction, the findings highlight the role of experimentation in transnational institution-building: This allows for a degree of ambiguity to be built into governance institutions to create multi-actor commitment alongside adaptive flexibility.