Dr Pamela Robinson

Dr Pamela Robinson

The Department of Strategy and International Business
Lecturer in Global Business Ethics

Contact details

+44 (0) 121 414 3418
0121 414 2982
Birmingham Business School
University House
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Pamela joined University of Birmingham in January 2010. Before coming to the Business School she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Social Sciences and a Research Associate at the Centre for Business Relationships Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) at Cardiff University.

Previously employed in the retail sector in a number of senior management roles, with responsibility for buying and marketing of food products. Followed by a period of consultancy, advising international retailers on their corporate social responsibility programmes and ethical sourcing policies.


  • PhD, Thesis: Are UK supermarkets socially responsible? A case study analysis of labour codes of conduct in a global banana chain, Cardiff University
  • MSc (Distinction) in Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing, Chartered Institute of Marketing
  • MBA in Business Administration, Henley Management College
  • BA (Hons) in Textile Management, Leeds University


  • Global Business Ethics (UG)
  • Labour Relations and Global Enterprise (MSc)
  • Ethics in Global Business (MBA)


Pamela has research interests in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the policies associated with ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability. Particularly in relation to corporate governance and self-regulation in global supply chains (GVCs), including: labour codes of conduct, international framework agreements (IFAs) and certification schemes, and the role of various institutional actors (stakeholders) in a globalised economy, including governments, trade unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social movements  promoting social justice and sustainable management practices.

Current research projects

1) EPSRC-ESRC ‘Building sustainable local nexuses of food, energy and water: from smart engineering to shared prosperity’ (The Local Nexus Network), April 2015 - October 2016: http://localnexus.org/feasibility-projects/business-models-and-practice-feasibility-project/

2) Horizon 2020-Makers project - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) ‘Smart Manufacturing for EU growth and prosperity’, January 2016 - December 2018. Focusing on “Socio-economic-environmental sustainability”:http://www.makers-rise.org/home/ 

3) ‘Sustainable Reshoring in High-end Fashion Clothing’, British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant, together with Dr Linda Hsieh (SOAS), April 2016 - December 2017. 

4) ‘Strawberry Fields for Ever: A case study of 'good practice' in fresh produce supply chains’ -  a longitudinal study, May 2012 - September 2017: ‘Strawberry Fields for Ever: A case study of 'good practice' in fresh produce supply chains’

Other activities

Deputy Director of the Global Value Chain Research Group

Birmingham Business School Academic visits Brazil to promote sustainable development in the Amazon. Brazil is not only about the World Cup, or even the next Olympics, it is also an arena to discuss the future of a sustainable Amazon. Dr Pamela Robinson recently visited Brazil to engage and debate with a number of interested parties that are focused on promoting sustainable development in the Amazon. Read about Pam's time in the Amazon.

EU Researchers' Night ‘Brum Dine with Me’ - Going Bananas, September 2012. Supported by the European Union, the chief aim of the event was to demonstrate how international companies (producers and supermarkets) think in terms of the food they sell, in respect of public health, the development of a responsible approach to sourcing product and the importance of fair trade. The event brought together researchers with Birmingham Wholesale Market and Fyffes Bananas, the world’s largest exporter and wholesaler of bananas.

ESRC Festival of Social Sciences Week 'Ethical Dilemmas' Event, November 2011. The chief aim of which was to raise awareness of ethical issues in business and society and facilitate debate in terms of resolving such problems. The activity was conducted in the style of the BBC Question Time programme and a panel of representatives from business, local government and civil society responded to questions asked by high school and undergraduate students.

University of Birmingham - North American Travel Fund, 2010. The chief aim of which is to collaborate on a joint research study with Professor Chris Tilly, UCLA.

Cardiff University International Collaboration Award (early-researchers), 2009. The chief aims of the visit are to disseminate doctoral research and to develop on-going research projects with the Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia.

ESRC Post Doctoral Fellowship, 2008

ESRC +3 PhD studentship, 2004-2007

  • Visiting Positions

February - March 2009: Academic Visitor: School of Psychology and Social Sciences, Javeriana University, Bogotá, Colombia.

August - September 2009: International Visiting Research Fellowship: Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies, University of Sydney, Australia.


Refereed Journal Articles

De Propris, L., Veldhuis, A., Glover, J., Bradley, D., Behzadian, K., Cottee, J., Downing, C., Ingram, J., Leach, M., Farmani, R., Butler, D., Pike, A., Purvis, L., Robinson, P. K. & Yang, A. 2017. Re-distributed manufacturing and the food-water-energy nexus: Opportunities and challenges.  Production Planning & Control,  URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/841596/

Robinson, P.K. and Hsieh, L. (2016). Reshoring: a strategic renewal of luxury clothing supply chains. Operations Management Research, 9(3): 89-101. DOI: 10.1007/s12063-016-0116-x

Palmer, M., Simmons, G., Robinson, P.K. & Fearne, A. (2015) Institutional maintenance work and power preservation in business exchanges: Insights from industrial supplier workshops, Industrial Marketing Management. DOI: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2015.03.017.

Robinson, P.K. and Rainbird, H. (2013) International Supply Chains and the Labour Process. Competition and Change, 17(1):91–107. DOI: 10.1179/1024529412Z.00000000027.

Van Vark, C., Humphrey, J., Sampathkumar, R., Nicolaides, L., Robinson, P.K., Dicharme, H. and Longfield, J. (2013) What do food traceability crises in the North mean for people working in food chains in the global South, Food Chain, (3) 1&2: 5-17.

Robinson, P.K. (2010) Do voluntary labour initiatives make a difference for the conditions of workers in global supply chains? Journal of Industrial Relations, (52)5:561-573. DOI: 10.1177/0022185610381564

Robinson, P.K. (2010) Responsible Retailing: The practice of CSR in banana plantations in Costa Rica. Journal of Business Ethics.  91(2):279-289. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-010-0619-6.

Robinson, P.K. (2009) Responsible Retailing: Regulating Fair and Ethical Trade. Journal of International Development, 21:1015-1026. DOI: 10.1002/jid.1635.

Book Chapters

Robinson, P.K. (with De Propris, L., P., Cottee, J., Lopez-Aviles, A., Behzadian, K., Bradley, D., Butler, D., Downing, C., Farmani, R., Ingram, R., Leach, M., Pike, A., Purvis, L., Yang, A.) (2016). The Local Nexus Network: Exploring the Future of Localised Food Systems and Associated Energy and Water Supply. In Rossi Setchi, Robert J. Howlett, Ying Liu,  Peter Theobald (Ed.), Sustainable Design and Manufacturing (vol. 52, pp. 613-624). Springer.

Robinson, P.K. (2011) ‘International framework agreements: Do workers benefit in a global banana supply chain?’ in Papadakis, K. (Ed.), Shaping Global Industrial Relations: The impact of international framework agreements. Geneva: ILO and Palgrave Macmillan.

Robinson, P.K. (with Obara, L.J.) (2011) ‘Negotiating the Terrain: Doing Research Abroad’ in Franklin, A. and Blyton, P. (Eds.), Researching Sustainability: A Guide to Social Science Methods, Practice and Engagement. London: Earthscan.

Robinson, P.K. (2009) ‘The Role of Global Civil Society in the Banana Supply Chain’ case study in Holland, F. (Ed.), Global Civil Society 2009: Poverty and Activism. London: Sage.

Discussion Papers

Rainbird, H. and Robinson, P.K. (2014) Beyond the organisation and beyond the nation state .... and the employment relationship, same as it ever was? Global value chains and the challenges for Industrial Relations Research’, pp. 1-21. Birmingham Business School Discussion Paper Series. http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/business/research/birmingham-business-school-discussion-paper-series.aspx 

Robinson, P.K. (2011) Precarious and temporary work: the real cost of the high yielding, top quality, low-priced banana, pp. 1-19. A paper for ‘Capitalism and Work Conference in honour of Professor Theo Nichols’. Centre for Global Labour Research (CGLR), Cardiff University: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/cglr/events-activities/2010/robinson.pdf.

Conference Papers

Robinson, P.K. (2015) ‘Fast-Fashion Retailers claim bringing manufacturing back home to the UK is not all about lowering costs, but they would say that wouldn't they, so what is the reality for a local workforce’. Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), London, 2-3 July.

Robinson, P.K. and Hsieh, L.H.Y.  (2014) ‘Made in Britain: A move towards sustainable-reshoring in the apparel sector’.  Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), Chicago, 10-12 July.

Robinson, P.K. (2014) ‘Responsible management practice or just good business? A case study of a fresh produce supply chain’.  EURAM, Valencia, 4-7 June.

Robinson, P.K. and Rainbird, H. (2013) ‘Strawberry fields forever: the intersection of the supply chain with the multilevel governance of employment’. ILPC, New Jersey, 18-20 March.

Rainbird, H. and Robinson, P.K. (2012) ‘Global value chain analysis and the labour process: implications for understanding labour agency.’ ILPC, Stockholm University, Sweden, 27-29 March.

Rainbird, H. and Robinson, P.K. (2011) ‘Beyond the organisation and the nation state…and the employment relationship, same as it ever was? Global value chains and the challenges for Industrial Relations research.’ BJIR 50th Anniversary Conference , LSE, London, 12-13 December.


Robinson, P.K. (2011) ‘Low-cost labour producing cheap goods for international supermarket retailers, is there more to global value chains than this?’ International CRIMT Conference, Montreal, Canada, 6-8 June.


Robinson, P.K. (2010) ‘Profit before workers’ well-being?The real cost of the high yielding, top quality, low-priced banana.’ TheWork, Employment and Society (WES) Conference, Brighton, 7-9 September.


Morgan, K. and Robinson, P.K. (2010) ‘Greening the Grocers:the rise of the sustainable supermarket?’ The Royal GeographicalSociety (RGS)/IBG Annual Conference, London, 1-3 September.


Robinson, P.K. (2010) ‘Is it Simply a Question of ProvidingCheap Labour? What Value Do Developing Economies Producing Goods forInternational Retailers Really Offer.’  The Society for the Advancementof Socio-Economics (SASE) 22nd Annual Conference, Philadelphia, 24-26 June.


Robinson, P.K. (2010) ‘International Framework Agreements:Are workers’ rights improved on banana plantations?’ International Labour Process Conference (ILPC), New Jersey, 15-17 March.

Robinson, P.K. (2009) ‘Do voluntary labour initiatives make adifference to the conditions of workers in global supply chains?’International Industrial Relations Association (IIRA) Congress, Sydney,24-27 August.

Robinson, P.K. (2009) ‘Social Responsibility and Codes ofConduct’ University Piloto de Colombia Employment and Social JusticeConference, Bogotá, Colombia.

Seminar Papers

Robinson, P.K. (2009) ‘Snakes and Ladders: SocialResponsibility and Codes of Conduct’ University Piloto de ColombiaEmployment and Social Justice Conference, Bogotá, Colombia, 2 March.

Robinson, P.K. (2008) ‘Responsible Retailing: The Reality ofEthical Sourcing’, Fair Trade, Governance and Social Justice Seminar,Network of Development Researchers, Swansea.

Robinson, P.K. (2006) ‘Governance in the Global Supply Chain’,El Centro Internacional de Política Económica para el DesarrolloSostenible (CINPE), National University, Costa Rica.

Robinson, P.K. (2006) ‘The Significance of Labour Codes in the Banana Sector’ CINPE, National University, Costa Rica.


Organised and presented at the ‘Fair Trade: Just Trade’ Banana Colloquium with international guest speakers from Chiquita Brands International,the International Union of Foodworkers and Action Aid, Cardiff University, January 2008.

Invited Talks

Participant in the ‘Fair Trade in Wales and the WorldSummit’, Welsh Assembly Government and Wales Fair-Trade Forum, NewportUniversity, June 2008.


An expert in retailing and international supply chains whose research focuses on corporate social responsibility and sustainability in the food and garment sectors. Potential areas to discuss include retail prices, the pressure on global supply contracts of a lower-valued UK currency, international product standards, the common agricultural policy and the growing challenge of an increasing demand for migrant labour in food production in the UK.