Internal Communication in Bangladeshi Ready- Made Garment Factories by Helene Blumer

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Internal Communication in Bangladeshi Ready- Made Garment Factories: Illustration of the Internal Communication System and Its Connection to Labor Unrest
By Helene Blumer
Internal Communication in Bangladeshi Ready- Made Garment Factories

Table of Contents
List of Figures ....................................................................................................1 0
List of Tables..................................................................................................... 11
List of Abbreviations ....................................................................................... 12
1 Introduction ................................................................................................. 13
1.1 Context ................................................................................................. 13
1.2 Short introduction of GIZ Bangladesh and PSES ................................. 14
1.3 Research problem ................................................................................ 15
1.4 The author’s perspective: “Which hats am I wearing?” ......................... 17
1.5 Structure of work .................................................................................. 19
2 Literature Review ........................................................................................ 21
2.1 The Bangladeshi ready-made garment sector ...................................... 21
2.1.1 Short overview of the sector ......................................................... 21
2.1.2 History and incidents of labor unrest ............................................ 24
2.1.3 Reasons for labor unrest .............................................................. 25
2.1.4 Workers’ representation ............................................................... 29
2.2 Internal communication ......................................................................... 34
2.2.1 The communication process ........................................................ 36
2.2.2 Forms and instruments of organizational communication ............ 38
2.2.3 Communication networks ............................................................. 40
2.2.4 Cultural aspect of communication ................................................ 42
2.3 Summary and identification of literature gap ......................................... 47
3 Research Purpose, Aim and Questions .................................................... 49
3.1 Research purpose ................................................................................ 49
3.2 Research aim ....................................................................................... 50
3.3 Research questions .............................................................................. 50
4 Research Design ......................................................................................... 51
4.1 Characteristics of the research design.................................................. 51
4.1.1 Research approach ...................................................................... 51
4.1.2 Reasoning of research ................................................................. 52
4.1.3 Options of research ...................................................................... 54
4.1.4 Research strategy ........................................................................ 54
4.1.5 Methodology ................................................................................. 55
4.2 Research method 1: Expert interviews ................................................. 56
4.2.1 Data collection .............................................................................. 56
4.2.2 Data analysis ................................................................................ 59
4.3 Research method 2: Group interviews.................................................. 61
4.3.1 Data collection .............................................................................. 61
4.3.2 Data analysis ................................................................................ 64
4.4 Quality criteria ....................................................................................... 64
4.5 Delimitations ......................................................................................... 66
5 The Proposed Internal Communication Model ......................................... 69
6 Results ......................................................................................................... 75
6.1 Data collection and analysis ................................................................. 75
6.1.1 Data collection .............................................................................. 75
6.1.2 Data analysis ................................................................................ 80
6.2 The internal communication system ..................................................... 80
6.2.1 Confirmation, disconfirmation and improvement of the proposed
model ........................................................................................... 80
6.2.2 Communication flows ................................................................... 81
6.2.3 Communication channels ............................................................. 91
6.3 The communication barrier ................................................................. 104
6.3.1 Evidences of the communication barrier .................................... 104
6.3.2 Nature of the communication barrier .......................................... 105
6.3.3 Labor unrest ............................................................................... 112
7 Discussion ................................................................................................. 119
7.1 The final internal communication model ............................................. 119
7.2 Observations regarding the internal communication system .............. 123
7.3 The SPCM and its connection to labor unrest .................................... 131
7.4 Cultural aspects .................................................................................. 138
8 Conclusion ................................................................................................ 143
8.1 Main findings ...................................................................................... 144
8.2 Theoretical and practical implications ................................................. 146
8.3 Limitations .......................................................................................... 148
8.4 Recommendations for future research................................................ 151
References ...................................................................................................... 155
Appendices ..................................................................................................... 161

List of Figures

Figure 1 The communication process .............................................................. 37
Figure 2 Forms of organizational communication ............................................ 38
Figure 3 Patterns in small-group communication networks .............................. 41
Figure 4 Illustrating communication systems using graphs or matrices ........... 42
Figure 5 Hofstede's cultural dimensions for Bangladesh and Switzerland ....... 45
Figure 6 General method of theory building in applied disciplines ................... 52
Figure 7 Research strategy .............................................................................. 55
Figure 8 Proposed internal communication model ........................................... 70
Figure 9 Final internal communication model ................................................ 120
Figure 10 The three paths of upward communication ...................................... 129
Figure 11 The CLA volcano ............................................................................. 134
Figure 12 Power distance vs. physical distance .............................................. 142

List of Tables

Table 1 Reasons for labor unrest I.................................................................. 26
Table 2 Reasons for labor unrest II................................................................. 27
Table 3 Obstacles in the communication process........................................... 37
Table 4 Instruments of internal communication .............................................. 40
Table 5 Hofstede’s cultural dimensions applied to Bangladesh ...................... 46
Table 6 Overview of research design ............................................................. 51
Table 7 Sampling strategy .............................................................................. 58
Table 8 Communication system: Units of analysis.......................................... 72
Table 9 Results of data collection (interview participants) .............................. 77
Table 10 Communication flow workers to Supervisors ..................................... 83
Table 11 Reasons for inexistence of flow to Supervisors ................................. 85
Table 12 Communication flow to In-charges and Production Manager............. 86
Table 13 Reasons for inexistence of flow to In-charges and Production
Manager............................................................................................. 87
Table 14 Communication flow to Welfare Officer .............................................. 88
Table 15 Reasons for approaching the Welfare Officer .................................... 88
Table 16 Communication flow to General Managers and Executive
Director .............................................................................................. 90
Table 17 Communication flow to owner ............................................................ 91
Table 18 Communication channels................................................................... 92
Table 19 Existence of participation committee ................................................. 96
Table 20 Existence of plant-level trade union ................................................. 100
Table 21 Reasons for inexistence of plant-level trade unions ......................... 102
Table 22 Reasons for the unintentional ignorance of the top
management .................................................................................... 108
Table 23 Reasons for the intentional ignorance of the top management ........ 111
Table 24 Reasons for withholding information ................................................ 112
Table 25 Occurrence of labor unrest .............................................................. 112
Table 26 Reasons for labor unrest III.............................................................. 116
Table 27 Connection between communication barrier and labor unrest ......... 117
Table 28 Average and median of communication intensity ............................. 121
Table 29 Median of communication intensity .................................................. 122

List of Abbreviations

AFL-CIO American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
BGIWA Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Association
BGMEA Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association
BKMEA Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association
BMZ Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung
BNGWEL Bangladesh National Garment Workers and Employees League
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
CLA Causal Layered Analysis
CMT Cut Make Trim
CPD Centre for Policy Dialogue
ED Executive Director
GM General Manager
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GIZ Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
(German Development Agency)
HR Human Resources
IBM International Business Machine Corporation
ILO International Labour Organisation
MFA Multi-Fiber Arrangement
Mgmt. Management
NGO Nongovernmental organization
NGWF National Garments Workers Federation
PC Participation Committee (equals Worker Participation Committee)
PM Production Manager
PSES Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry
RMG Ready-made garment
SPCM Semi-permeable Communication Membrane
Tk. Taka
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
WPC Worker Participation Committee (equals Participation Committee)


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