Globalism/Localism at Work: Volume 13


Table of contents

(13 chapters)

In this introduction restructuring of work is presented as an ongoing, locally situated process in which actors within work organizations play an important role. Central themes of this process are the increasing importance of the cultural within the economical sphere, the different organizational options of organizations, new tensions in labor relations and the local consequences of continuous spatial relocation of labor. Before introducing the different contributions to the volume, attention is paid to methodological implications for research on the increasing interrelations of the global and local within processes of work restructuring.

The increase of foreign investment in industrial activities has accelerated the restructuring of production and new ways of managing the workforce in Brazil, especially in the car industry. Based on the investigation of new auto plants in Rio de Janeiro state in the 1990s, this text intends to bring more arguments to a general discussion about the relationship between the global and the local, emphasizing the point of view of localities that receive foreign direct investments, and suggesting that transnational companies benefit from the conditions offered to attract investments, but also stimulate the creation of new political and economical structures that may produce new forms of participation from local and regional political actors.

Successive reorganization of production of work in the French car industry has led to a particular productive matrix. This productive matrix is very effective and has made gains of between 5 and 12% per year possible. The components of the matrix are tight flow, teamwork and competencies model and integration of production in the outspread firm. The matrix can be understood as a subsection of the post-Fordist model of capital accumulation. The question is put whether this matrix can overcome the contradictions between workers and employers and keep the French car manufacturers in profit over the long term.

During the last 15 years of the 20th century cities in the mexican northern border experienced an impressive increase of foreign investment specially in electronics and autoparts. Word class techniques, certifications like ISO 9000, more sophisticated manufacturing processes spread trough a handful of very big plants. Although these changes changed the skills requirements in technical levels, no significative evidence has been found in labor lowest levels, were routine operations and scarce opportunities to build a career are the most common situation.

The article discusses aspects of the process of privatization/deregulation/restructuring as part of a global phenomenon in the telecommunications industry, considering the case of Brazil. The objective is to analyze the local implications of that global process focusing on its effects on the unions. The article examines the unions’ new strategies and agendas facing the dramatic changes in the industry. Some evidences indicate that the unions were negatively affected by the changes but despite the losses, the new situation forced a reaction and new strategies are being carried out although it seems difficult to re-gain the previous influence. The argument asserts that the global-local relations cannot be examined from a unilateral dimension, instead must be seen as a dialectical movement.

The manufacturing transnational corporations (TNC) subsidiaries established in Mexico are playing a priority role within the labor markets in the Mexican economy, not only because of their participation in exports, generation of foreign exchange and employment in Mexico, but also because they are in command of a process of deep economic change.

Although the impact TNC subsidiaries have on the local configuration of productive networks, business capacities and links with different sectors has not been studied well enough in Mexico, it is nevertheless widely criticized. In other words, TNC subsidiaries undoubtedly have a positive impact on different areas, such as employment, generating foreign exchange, technological and organizational capacities and labor skills, but it is based on a learning that takes place within the affiliated plants themselves and in intra-firm relations. In spite of government and private efforts, their local spill over effects on Mexican companies is still very weak.

The purpose of this study is to identify the impact foreign TNC subsidiaries located in Mexico have on the development of local suppliers. The methodology is based on the application of three different types of questionnaires: one addressed to television TNC assembly plant workers in Tijuana, another to local suppliers, both foreign and national, and a third questionnaire geared to decision-makers and local business associations. We also considered results from other studies and analyzed different sources of information. The questionnaires were applied in Tijuana throughout January 2001.

The results of the study shows that there is an important industrial agglomeration in Tijuana and several institutions support this environment of clustering. Nevertheless, there are major disadvantages for increased local productive capabilities, but still room for Mexican suppliers and for public and private policy.

The purpose of this document is to show the effects of globalization on the workers of the electronics cluster in the state of Jalisco. It begins with the assumption that the globalization has impacted the interests of the workers in their working conditions and created the precarization of workers. The text is divided in three sections: the first section presents the characteristics of the electronics cluster; the second section outlines a profile of the workers of this industry, and the last one presents the results of the precarization of work.

The legalization of gambling is moving this once deviant sector into the mainstream of commercial entertainment, with the global hotel-casino increasingly adopted as a state initiative on economic redevelopment. But corporate capitalist interests do not result in universal trends since local regulatory frameworks are crucial. Although gambling is being normalized as mass consumption, it remains to some extent an exceptional business, subject both to global innovation in the technology of surveillance and variable local controls. The paper argues that the effects of glocalization on the organization of work are equally variable, drawing on fieldwork and case studies from the USA, Australasia and the U.K.

Work restructuring in the interference of the global and the local is discussed with distribution as starting point of analysis. The distribution sector in The Netherlands is introduced as a local part of a global context in which outsourcing becomes more and more general practice. Logistic chains, in which both production and distribution are incorporated are indicated as a promising level of analysis in gaining more insight in the dynamics of the process of work restructuring. The argument is illustrated by the analysis of the chain of orchid plants.

Conventional wisdom regarding the gains from globalization states that, if managed correctly, it can lead to increased market opportunities for firms to grow and prosper, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Nevertheless, some sectoral case studies raise questions regarding the terms under which SMEs in developing countries participate in global production systems and the scope of opportunities that globalized markets actually do offer for industrial development and SME upgrading in developing countries.

In this concluding chapter the empirical research on work restructuring that is presented in the different chapters is related to the central question of this volume: in which way is the global produced and reproduced in the local and what does this mean for the (re)structuring of the local? The central themes of the introductory chapter of this volume are taken into account: the increasing impact of the cultural on the economical sphere, the strategic effect of various organizational options, the coming into being of new sectors, labor relations in a globalizing world and the tension between clusterization and relocation of labor. In the last part of this contribution some remarks are made on a possible direction of further research in the field of work restructuring in its glocal context.

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Book series
Research in the Sociology of Work
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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