The Foxconn Employment System

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW2.3.01 (Tower Two)
Jan Drahokoupil, University of Mannheim, Brussels, Belgium; European Trade Union Institute, Brussels, Belgium
Addressing the mini-conference sub-theme of the international firm as employment system, this paper examines the employment systems across the world operations of Foxconn and relates it to the business strategy of the firm. Headquartered in Taiwan, Foxconn is the largest electronic manufacturing firm in the world with a major presence in China. Its business strategy is indicative of the shifts in the structure of global production networks in the sector, with MNCs from ‘emerging countries’ acquiring new roles. Foxconn has entered Europe as an employer, with production sites established in Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia. The analysis draws on data on labour relations in some of largest Chinese plants and Foxconn’s operation in the European affiliates. It takes a holistic perspective on the firm and relates the outcomes in the affiliates to the global business strategy of the MNC. Particular attention is given to the degree to which the labour management regimes developed in the Chinese context are attempted to be replicated in Europe, the degree to which local conditions allow that, and the role of European plants in the wider business strategy of Foxconn.