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Untangling Social Compliance: Promises and Pitfalls of Social Audit Analyses

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study describes the promises and pitfalls of studying social audit data in the context of a global private labor governance program in the apparel industry, the Fair Labor Association. The case underlines how a thorough study and knowledge of both governing organization and local environment are essential for the sensible analysis of audit data. The case thus showcases examples in which audit data cannot be correctly interpreted without prior knowledge of existing local legal standards, industry specificities, mechanisms of auditing, and other contextualities. The case further discusses when and where it makes sense to include secondary data for analysis and what the benefits and challenges of primary data encoding are. In this context, it also demonstrates how the process of mining and encoding of social audit data can be structured to minimize mistakes and guarantee consistency and quality in results. Generally, the case study encourages strongly to embed the analysis of quantitative audit data in a thorough literature review, and if possible to supplement it with a quantitative study of the governing bodies’ organizational mechanisms to guarantee the correct interpretation of social auditing results.

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