Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Inara K. Scott, Oregon State University, College of Business asks Antitrust and Socially Responsible Collaboration: A Chilling Combination?
ABSTRACT: Antitrust and Socially Responsible Collaboration: A Chilling Combination? by Inara K. Scott :: Businesses are increasingly using collaboration to address concerns about sustainability, transparency, human rights, and labor conditions in global markets. Such collaborations include the development of certifications and standards, the sharing of information about factories and suppliers, and agreements to share facilities, like less than full delivery trucks. Yet at the same time, federal antitrust policies broadly prohibit agreements that restrain trade or commerce, creating the potential for innovative collaborations to result in legal prosecution. This article applies antitrust law to socially responsible and sustainable business collaboration in an effort to determine whether antitrust law chills potentially beneficial agreements. The article concludes that careful structuring of agreements can avoid many antitrust violations, but also finds that certain types of agreements, including those that could have the most impact on scarce resources and vulnerable commodity producers, are forbidden. Accordingly, this article argues that per se rules forbidding certain practices, including price fixing and resource sharing, be reconsidered in light of current economic and environmental conditions. It also questions certain assumptions about the benefits of competition in light of current environmental, human rights, and sustainability challenges.