Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 675–689 | Cite as

Migration Intermediaries and Codes of Conduct: Temporary Migrant Workers in Australian Horticulture

  • Elsa UnderhillEmail author
  • Dimitria Groutsis
  • Diane van den Broek
  • Malcolm Rimmer
Original Paper


Over recent decades, developments in network governance have seen governments around the world cede considerable authority and responsibility to commercial migration intermediaries for recruiting and managing temporary migrant labour. Correspondingly, a by-product of network governance has been the emergence of soft employment regulation in which voluntary codes of conduct supplement hard (enforceable) legal employment standards. This paper explores these developments in the context of temporary migrant workers employed in Australian horticulture. First the paper analyses the growing use of temporary migrant labour in this industry. It then describes how different types of intermediaries interact with this workforce. The paper then outlines both hard and soft employment regulations, and contrasts them with actual employment conditions, questioning how a network governance approach has affected this vulnerable workforce. The paper concludes that changes in network governance of migration and employment relations have emasculated formal legal regulation, leaving market forces to operate without effective or ethical constraints at the expense of the public good.


Codes of conduct Employment conditions Horticulture Migration intermediaries Occupational health and safety Temporary migrant workers 



Dr. Underhill received a research grant from the Centre for Sustainable and Responsible Organisations, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Geelong Australia for this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest in relation to this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elsa Underhill
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dimitria Groutsis
    • 2
  • Diane van den Broek
    • 2
  • Malcolm Rimmer
    • 3
  1. 1.Deakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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