Bangladesh Clothes Factory Fire

At the end of last month, a garment factory fire in Bangladesh killed more than 100 people and injured many more. Let us view this tragedy from a supply chain perspective. Supply chains are typically customer-focused. The incident suggests that customers expect cheap prices, but are not willing to pay for social standards. The lowest possible labor costs seem to be the single criterion for Western retailers when selecting suppliers. In Bangladesh, mostly women and often children are exposed to risks from lacking fire safety standards in factories. Who is to blame? Brands whose marketing experts create new consumer needs? Consumers who do not know a product’s supply chain? Retailers who are forced to select the cheapest suppliers to survive competition? Suppliers who do not invest in fire safety? Human rights groups urge Western governments to press retailers and apparel brands to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.

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About Andreas Wieland

Dr. Andreas Wieland is an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include supply chain risk management and international logistics strategies.

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