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Are overseas sweatshops a wicked problem and does it matter? The case of ready-made garments sector in Bangladesh
Recurrent tragedies in factories across Asia in recent years have prompted efforts by the ‘big fashion brands’ to shore up their image in the face of adverse publicity and potential consumer boycotts. These events highlight widespread nonconformity with the United Nations’ 8th sustainable Development Goal and International Labour Organisation’s ‘Decent Work’ agenda. This study explores the controversial issue of overseas sweatshops through the much-discussed case of the Bangladeshi RMG sector. We argue that the complexity and conflicting interests of multiple stakeholders have turned the issue of RMG sweatshops into a wicked problem for both emerging and advanced economies. Implications have been drawn for the policy makers by applying systems thinking and iceberg model to configure and address this wicked problem.