Overcoming barriers to improving OHS among SMEs in Myanmar


Start date: 1 February, 2020 End date: 31 January, 2023 Project type: Research collaboration projects in growth and transition countries (Window 2) Project code: 19-M08-SDU Countries: Myanmar Thematic areas: Production, industry and labour market, Lead institution: University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Denmark Partner institutions: Yangon Technological University (YTU), Myanmar Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Jan Vang Brambini-Pedersen Total grant: 4,999,946 DKK

Project summary

In the wake of the Rana Plaza accident the recent years have witnessed increased interests among scholars, global brands, policy-makers and NGOs in occupational health and safety (OHS) among companies in developing countries (Huq et al 2016). However, the focus has been on the larger companies located in developing countries (Villena and Gioia 2018), which are suppliers to global firms and have knowledge sources that can assist in improving OHS (Distelhorst et al, 2017, Bari & Gereffi 2001). Scholars are not optimistic about improvements of OHS in SMEs, especially not countries existing in institutional voids as Myanmar. The overarching purpose of the project is therefore to create new knowledge about how and why intervention-based OHS knowledge is disseminated and used successfully in an industrial cluster. The project thereby contributes to the academic field by being the first to analyze drivers and barriers to OHS-productivity dissemination in clusters in a developing country. The project also contributes to building capacity among central labor market organizations.


First year report
The project aims at understanding how knowledge about occupational health and safety is shared (/dissemination) among garment SMEs in clusters in greater Yangon. Yangon is considered an institutional void context. To be able to asses the dissemination the project had to implement OHS intervention and subsequently develop develop dissemination activities and measure the dissemination effects.

Covid-19 has, however, changed the conditions for preparing the project since we could not do face-to-face training and the training had to be redesigned so they could be implemented in a digital version. This has proven highly time consuming but also provided new insights of how digital channels can be used to ensure better training that what is possible face-to-face. The advantages primarely relates to the possibilities of using nano-modules supported with video materials. This has reduced the cognitive stress related to participants ability to process large amounts of information in short time spans characterizing normal face-to-faace training sessions. The use of video also allows for faster and more homogenious implementation of interventions and allows SDU to be 'present' in interventions even when not in Myanmar.

Sadly, Covid-19 resulted in a postponement of the interventions. Instead SDU worked on the survey and design of the dissemination activities beloning to activities in 2021.

(2021 is not part of the reporting but sadly Myanmar expereinced a military coup and this postponed the activities further since SDU in agreement with DFC is currently looking for a new partner).

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