Understanding Resilience: Bangladeshi Micro-Tanneries (McTs) in a Changing Global-Local Environment
Since Micro-tanneries’ (McT) appearance in 1948 in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), it has adapted to changes and continued its businesses. McTs displayed remarkable growth in the late 1990s and supported the booming Bangladesh leather industry, facilitating the export of diversified products to the...
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|Summary:||Since Micro-tanneries’ (McT) appearance in 1948 in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), it has adapted to changes and continued its businesses. McTs displayed remarkable growth in the late 1990s and supported the booming Bangladesh leather industry, facilitating the export of diversified products to the world market and contributing to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Thus, understanding the causes of its resilience is not only important from the academic perspective but also crucial from stakeholders’ point of view as it is currently undergoing a rapid transformation. In Bangladesh, 206 tanneries are currently operating of which 187 were located in Hazaribagh, Dhaka during the research period.
Ever since its inception, McTs have faced numerous challenges regarding adhering to standards (both local and global), changes in the supply chain, government pressure to relocate from Hazaribagh to Savar, and growing environmental as well as workers health protection activities. National and international media and NGOs widely focused on the negative impacts of McTs to the extent that their contribution to the national GDP as well as to local socio-political sectors was understudied.
At the center of this thesis stand two aims: 1) to identify the major factors influencing the resilience of McTs and 2) to explore how indigenous knowledge (i.e. informal skills and understanding developed by workers and owners with long experience of interaction with their local surroundings) is mobilized to adapt to highly dynamic environments and changes. This qualitative research is based on semi-structured interviews and participant observation. The fieldwork was carried out in a crucial period at the beginning of 2017 when McTs were faced with another great challenge in having to relocate.
The primary motivation of this research comes from the intention to explore the core reasons for these McTs’ sustainability and subsequent growth (i.e. resilience) despite numerous obstacles. Two historical periods (1990–1995 and 2010–2017) are taken into consideration to evaluate the aspects described above since the McTs faced significant changes that directly impacted their survival. Consequently, this research examines the resilience of the McTs with particular reference to two major theoretical approaches, such as the socio-ecological system perspective and the organizational change management in the continuing of their business operations.
The major empirical findings are: 1) In Bangladesh’s context, categorizing McTs into micro and macro is problematic based on the available EU criteria. 2) The interplay of several internal and external factors within the socio-ecological system contribute to achieving resilience. 3) McTs manage indigenous knowledge creatively and employ such knowledge in effectively managing their day-to-day operations. 4) ‘Family dynamics’ (understood as the patterns of relating or interactions between family members towards achieving a common business goal) are an important consideration that impact the resilience of McTs. 5) McTs do not receive institutional support either from the government or from NGOs for waste management, as would be expected. 6) In the above-mentioned two historical periods, when they faced major challenges, McTs showed remarkable resilience in continuing their operations by remaining flexible, adaptive, and competitive. 7) The employers largely ignored the need for professional training (as the employees mostly learnt by doing) and health risk matters of their workforce, even though their day-to-day work allows the leather industry to earn millions each year.
This research demonstrates that among McTs, while a number of them could not succeed and went out of business, many of them were added as new entrepreneurs in this sector. They are the silent profit generators, employers, entrepreneurs, charitable agencies, and social activists who are often forgotten and are seldom quoted in development reports, both locally and globally.|
|Physical Description:||178 Pages|