About the project

I’m Conor Cradden, currently unemployed but (all being well) soon to be working at the University of Lausanne. I’m a sociologist, interested mainly in work and employment but also in grand theory, mostly via the work of Habermas and Parsons.

Starting in January 2013, I’m going to be running a research project based in the Institut d’études politiques et internationales at the University of Lausanne in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The funding for the project comes from an organization called the Swiss Network for International Studies.

The aim of the research project is to assess how much impact the International Finance Corporation’s ‘performance standards’ system has had on the 1800 or so businesses that were taken on as IFC clients netween 2006 and 2011. We’re going to be looking at how IFC staff go about assessing whether businesses applying for investment are in compliance with its social and environmental standards, and how – and how effectively – it helps those that are not to meet them. We’re going to be asking managers and workers in IFC-funded businesses whether they think that anything significant has changed as a result of having to get in line with the performance standards. And we’ll be comparing employment practices in client businesses with those in similar businesses in the same region that have not had any IFC investment to see what, if anything, is different about the way those businesses are run. We’re interested in all aspects of employment practice, but we’ll be focusing in particular on freedom of association, which is to say the degree to which employees are able to organize themselves into unions or other types of worker organization and to bargain about pay and conditions with their employers.

As well as me and Jean-Christophe Graz at the University of Lausanne, the project involves Frank Hoffer of the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities (which is also home to the coordination of the Global Labour University and the Global Unions Research Network), Layna Mosley of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Christoph Scherrer of the University of Kassel and Fiona Murie of the Building and Woodworkers International.

The project officially starts in January 2013 – at least, that’s when the money starts to arrive – and will last 2 years.


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