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Local and global organisational dynamics in the field of finance: Relational, institutional and symbolic structuration of financial work

Javier Hernandez (Department of Sociology and Political Science, Universidad Catolica de Temuco, Temuco, Chile)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 11 June 2018




While financial organisations and systems are becoming global, there still seems to be some country-based differences explained mainly by social dynamics of power and distribution of resources. The purpose of this paper is to analyse practices of a wide variety of financial organisations in two very different social environments, namely, the UK and Chile, with special focus on recruitment and promotion procedures and work under the industry.


From 41 in-depth interviews with practitioners in London, Edinburgh and Santiago de Chile and participant observation of recruitment practices, it was possible to analyse the practices of financial organisations, emphasising on the way they interact with people in global markets and local fields. Interviews and observation were designed to understand organisational procedures in the life course of a set of people working in financial firms and related institutions.


The paper argues for a field approach since Chile’s peripheral position in global markets and its elite-concentrated local distribution of resources encourage more traditional organisational practices, especially in terms of recruitment, socialisation and staff allocation, while in the UK, organisational processes are more technically designed and competitive, as part of a different field, the one of the main centres of financial activities.

Research limitations/implications

Although organisations are accessed via their workers and not studied directly, the design of the interviews and the findings allow understanding how financial work is structured by organisational procedures.

Practical implications

The paper contributes to highlight the role played by organisational procedures and how policies oriented to decrease inequality should take them into account.

Social implications

It contributes to understanding how inequality is based on organisational practices which are, at the same time, grounded in inequal social structures.


Very few studies have compared, from an in-depth and qualitative perspective, the way organisational procedures are constituted in two very different countries. It covers a wide variety of organisations types and financial products and services. It also tries to make a contribution bridging the current economic sociology literature and organisational studies. Very few articles have also performed systematic fieldwork in two very different countries.



This paper was produced within the framework of the FONDECYT Iniciacion Grant No. 11160521 (“Reclutamiento, selección de personal y estructura social: Análisis sociológico de los procedimientos seguidos por grandes empresas en Chile”), funded by CONICYT, Chile. The author also thanks Donald MacKenzie, Alex Preda, Matt Vidal, Jorge Atria, Jose Ossandón, Emilio Moya, Yuval Millo and other scholars and reviewers for their unvaluable comments to previous versions of this paper.


Hernandez, J. (2018), "Local and global organisational dynamics in the field of finance: Relational, institutional and symbolic structuration of financial work", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 144-161.



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