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Challenges and opportunities of globalisation for an independent small manufacturer: A case study in Turkey’s shipyards

Surhan Cam (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Serap Palaz (Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, Bandirma Onyedi Eylul University, Bandirma, Turkey)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 10 October 2016




Over the past few decades, academic debates on small- and medium-sized establishments (SMEs) have focused on the challenges of globalisation, especially for the independent small producers outside the niche markets. However, the purpose of this paper is to highlight the limits of these sorts of evaluations arguing that globalisation can also provide opportunities for the valuable contributions of such enterprises.


Drawing on an ethnographic case study in Turkey, inquiries in the paper are essentially predicated on unstructured conversations with the owner/manager of a shipyard investigated, workplace observations and supplementary conversations with employees as well as elite interviews with the Portal Authorities. Additional interviews were also conducted with the owner/managers of three other shipyards.


The evidence suggests that the opportunities of globalisation can be consolidated with certain HRM strategies including a tailored demarcation of work-life balance, strategized retention for skills shortage, individualised grievance resolutions, employees-led work design, team work, “in-turn” and “mobile” employment. Likewise, logistic management strategies such as downsizing, investment diversification, “queasy-niche” production, use of communication technologies, networking and opening up to global markets may prove highly useful. Even so, the sustainability of independent smaller businesses requires responsive trade regulations about, for instance, tender offers, fair competition and the conflict of interests in addition to “tough-love policies” to protect employment rights.


The paper rectifies the lack of systematic research into the implications of globalisation for the SMEs in shipbuilding industry and their managerial responses.



The authors would like to thank the British Council for supporting this research financially, and Bandirma Onyedi Eylul University for its logistic support.


Cam, S. and Palaz, S. (2016), "Challenges and opportunities of globalisation for an independent small manufacturer: A case study in Turkey’s shipyards", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 258-275.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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