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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Study to understand ethical trading

Published: 4 May 2012

Research into the extent to which ethical codes have been implemented by the apparel or clothing industry in Sri Lanka has been concluded and published by the University of Southampton.

The research was funded by an ESRC grant of £210,101 (under the full-economic costing mechanism or FEC) and was awarded to the University of Southampton, where Dr Kanchana Ruwanpura is the Principal Investigator.

The University requires that all research conducted by its members that involves human participants is subject to a rigorous process of ethical review before the research is started. This process, together with the intense competition for grants and the associated peer review procedure that is necessary for any grant application to succeed, ensures that all research sponsored by the University is of the highest standard and is carried out with the aim of pushing the frontiers of knowledge forwards.

Using well established ethnographic research methods in the social sciences, Dr Ruwanpura’s fieldwork was carried out over a two-year period. As part of her research, she spent seven months based at two factories in Sri Lanka engaging in participant-observation and carrying-out in-depth interviews with ninety workers. In addition, twenty workers kept weekly journals for a one year period, and interviews were conducted with management and labour rights organization constituencies, a sample of twenty-five each – allowing findings to be verified.

Dr. Ruwanpura's research findings were disseminated via various workshops and peer reviewed research outputs. Two workshops were held in Colombo, Sri Lanka: in June 2011 for labour rights organizations and one in March 2012 for employers, policy-makers and researchers. A third was held at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland in November 2012 for the ILO staff and relevant tripartite actors. Additionally, the research has resulted in several publications in high impact international journals, such as Progress in Development Studies and Journal of Economic Geography, with a third output under review with Development and Change

Her latest working paper entitled Ethical Codes: Reality & Rhetoric - A Study of Sri Lanka's Apparel Sector is soon to be revised and submitted to a peer-reviewed academic journal.

To read more about the findings please visit our research project page here

A Study of Sri Lanka's Apparel Sector
Ethical Codes: Reality and Rhetoric
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