Localising the Global: Regions, Multinationals and Experimentation

Friday, June 24, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
420 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Phil Almond, De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom; N/A, United Kingdom
This paper is about the political economy of sub-national regions in the context of corporate globalisation. It aims to  explore how the international competition to attract and retain mobile productive investment shapes the nature of governance of business and employment systems. It argues that international shifts in the nature of socio-economic regulation make sub-national, regional governance an important space in which the international competitiveness of business systems and labour markets is shaped, with significant consequences for the quantity and quality of employment. We therefore seek to develop methodological and conceptual tools by which the agency of social, political and economic actors at regional levels of governance, acting within a context of intense competition between places for productive investment, can be analysed. In doing so, we hope to contribute to comparative industrial and employment relations by deepening its geographical scope, while relativizing some of the over-simplifications of work drawing on the varieties of capitalism framework, which has become near-hegemonic in this field. Secondly, we aim more specifically to increase the capacity of employment relations research on multinational companies (MNCs) to account for sub-national regional levels of analysis.

The paper proceeds as follows. The first main section introduces the nature of competition between places under neo-liberal globalisation, and how this has been seen to shape patterns of employment relations. The second section then explores in more detail the nature of economic governance, drawing upon insights from spatial political economy and economic geography to establish how the functions of economic governance have been shaped by this competition. The third section then examines how these changes have provided an increased relative importance for sub-national social and economic coordination, before exploring international similarities and differences in how this space is constructed, with regard to the specific challenge of attracting and retaining foreign direct investment (FDI). The final main section then explains the particular impact of integrating regional governance within an industrial relations analysis of multinationals. The concluding section then draws out wider implications for the field of industrial relations.