"We Came Here for Work": Recollections of Globalisation and Changes to Work in a New Zealand Single Industry Town

by Fiona Hurd

Institution: University of Waikato
Year: 2015
Keywords: Critical Management Studies; Identity; Globalisation
Record ID: 1310080
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9071


Globalisation is a term widely associated with intensification in the mobilisation of goods, services, capital and people by scholars focussed on organisational research. Kelsey (1997) and Stiglitz (2003) are among those scholars who hold that this intensification has been enabled by processes of change in the political economy. They focus on the impact of, the implementation of a neo-liberal agenda driven by policy makers in international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In the view of these institutions, responsible global development, governance, and management, and markets are deemed the most salient mechanism for wealth creation and distribution. Market driven growth in economic outputs are purported to deliver wider human emancipation. The functions of the state are to be circumscribed accordingly. This agenda has been amplified through political, social, and economic directives which, according to Boltanski (2011, p.15) has however “not brought about a withering away of the state but its transformation [based] on the model of the firm, to adjust itself to the new forms of capitalism. This observation brings about a focus on corporate ways of thinking as central to understanding the changing modes of organisation in all spheres of life.” Kelliher and Anderson (2010) purport that changes in the workplace, particularly through the adoption of flexible forms of work and flexible organisational structures have supported, and been supported by the adoption of a neo-liberal agenda. The argument underpinning both the neo-liberal political agenda and the attraction of greater flexibility in work practices is centred on notions of increased freedom and choice for all. Both imply the end purpose and intention of their policy directives are increased social well-being to be achieved through the lexicon of universal freedom the neo-liberals harness to their agenda. However, not all researchers and analysts are convinced that the outcomes associated with Globalisation are consistent with emancipatory rhetoric of neo-liberal proponents. Critics such as Kaplinsky (2005) and Pikkety (2014) draw attention to growing income inequality under the prevailing economic directives referred to interchangeably as Globalisation, global development, or economic growth deemed necessary to this purported emancipatory agenda. Pikkety (2014) tracks the wealth of the top earners over the past 250 years. He concludes that wealth inequalities are not self-correcting as pro-market advocates proclaim. Social and political unrest generated by the seemingly intractable and growing gap between rich and poor is intensifying. In their examinations of the changes in work place practice under the conditions of neo-liberalism, Bender and Saturn (2009) and McKee-Ryan, Virick, Prussia, Harvey and Lilly (2009) look to increases in under, over and unemployment as a counter-point to the neo-liberal point of view. Through their focus, multiple forms of unequal power and control are seen at the societal,…