Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Social compliance audits and multinational corporation supply chain: evidence from a study of the rituals of social audits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Muhammad Azizul Islam, Craig Deegan, Rob Gray

School/Research organisations


This study investigates the use of social compliance audits in the supply chain of multinational corporations (MNCs). Particularly, we explore the use of such audits in assessing and managing the working conditions of factory workers in the garment industry in a developing nation. Through a range of interviews with MNCs' internal auditors, with commissioned external auditors and with representatives of the suppliers in Bangladesh, this study finds that social compliance audits become ritual strategies and are not a primary means of advancing workers' rights. Drawing on the concept of surrogate accountability, the study suggests that to create real change in workers' conditions and in order to hold MNCs and their suppliers accountable, some form of surrogate (government, non-governmental organisations or media) intervention is necessary. This is, we argue, preferable to leaving it in the hands of 'markets' and simply waiting for another major incident such as Rana Plaza to stir public concern. This study contributes to the literature by investigating how social compliance audits are undertaken by MNCs sourcing products from a developing nation, what motivations drive the adoption of such audits, and what, if anything, are the likely outcomes from the process.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-224
Number of pages35
JournalAccounting and Business Research
Issue number2
Early online date11 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Social compliance audits, Surrogate accountability, Supply chain, Developing nations

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Organisational Effectiveness and Social and Environmental Accounting: Through the Past Darkly

    Gray, R. H., O'Dochartaigh, A. & Rannou, C., 8 Jan 2016, (Accepted/In press) Pioneers of Critical Accounting: A Celebration of the Life of Tony Lowe. Haslam, J. & Sikka, P. (eds.). London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 53-71

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. Social Responsibility Disclosure in the International Gambling Industry: A Research Note

    Leung, C. H. & Gray, R. H., 2016, In : Meditari Accountancy Research. 24, 1, p. 73-90

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Corporate reporting and accounting for externalities

    Unerman, J., Bebbington, J. & O'Dwyer, B., 30 Jun 2018, In : Accounting and Business Research. 48, 5, p. 497-522 25 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. The Routledge Companion to Fair Value and Financial Reporting

    Lee, T. A., 2008, In : Accounting and Business Research. 38, p. 93-96 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Does sustainability reporting improve corporate behaviour?: Wrong Question? Right Time?

    Gray, R. H., Jan 2006, In : Accounting and Business Research. 36, Intl Acc Policy Forum, p. 65-88

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Full cost accounting - principles and practices

    Bebbington, K. J., Gray, R. H., Hibbitt, C. & Kirk, E., 2002, In : Accounting and Business Research. Jan, p. 46-47

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 251361766