Local and Global Dynamics in Financial Organisations: Relational, Institutional and Symbolic Structuration of Financial Work

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.7.02 (Clement House)
Javier Hernandez, Catholic University of Temuco, Temuco, Chile
While financial organisations and systems are becoming global, there still seems to be some differences depending on the country in which financial activities are performed. This article will report on a comparative study analysing the practices of financial organisations and their employees in two very different social environments: the UK and Chile. From 38 in-depth interviews with financial practitioners in London, Edinburgh and Santiago de Chile about their job trajectories and experiences, it was possible to analyse the practices of financial organisations in the UK and Chile, with an emphasis on the way they interact with global financial trends and local distributions of power and resources. A sociological account of organisational processes such as recruitment, socialisation, staff allocation, promotion and organisation of work within firms in these countries allowed for description and analysis of the way firms’ practices are related to their social (structural, institutional and symbolic) contexts. The research shows that Chile’s peripheral position in the global financial market and its highly elite-concentrated local distribution of resources encourage more traditional organisational practices, especially in terms of recruitment, socialisation, staff allocation and promotion, as well as activities performed and the way services are provided. In the UK, on the other hand, all of the above-mentioned processes are more technical, formally designed and competitive, as one of the main centres of financial activities interacting with a highly diverse client base. Thus, global financial activities are also structured by local and social dynamics, related to distribution of power and resources, norms and decisions and cognitive and cultural patterns. A discussion on the notions of variegated capitalism and social structuration of the economy is provided as part of the conclusions.