2000 volume 32(9) pages 1529 – 1544
doi:10.1068/a3298

Cite as:
Cumbers A, Atterton J, 2000, "Globalisation and the contested process of international corporate restructuring: employment reorganisation and the issue of labour consent in the international oil industry" Environment and Planning A 32(9) 1529 – 1544

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Globalisation and the contested process of international corporate restructuring: employment reorganisation and the issue of labour consent in the international oil industry

Andrew Cumbers, Jane Atterton

Received 12 June 1999; in revised form 4 December 1999

Abstract. Labour is typically treated as a passive victim of corporate restructuring processes in discourses on globalisation, rendered helpless by rationalisation and downsizing, and structurally place-bound and defenceless against increasingly mobile and footloose capital. This paper forms part of a growing body of work in the geographical literature that seeks to contest this view, reinserting labour as an actor in the context of globalisation. Specifically, we consider labour as an autonomous agent in the corporate labour process, through an examination of the impact of current processes of organisational restructuring in multinational corporations upon employment relations. We argue that corporate restructuring is a socially embedded, and therefore highly problematic, process involving issues of negotiation, consent, and resistance between managers and workers, and that current restructuring is therefore destabilising established patterns of social relations by which corporations secured worker consent in the past. Our argument is developed using a case study from the international oil industry.

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