2001 volume 33(12) pages 2175 – 2188

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Wright M W, 2001, "Asian spies, American motors, and speculations on the space - time of value" Environment and Planning A 33(12) 2175 – 2188

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Asian spies, American motors, and speculations on the space - time of value

Melissa W Wright

Received 6 January 2001; in revised form 30 May 2001

Abstract. How do strategists' decisions regarding the organization of corporate resources reflect the interplay of power and identity within the firm? And what is at stake for the production of value? These are the questions I address through the presentation of an ethnographic study I conducted in the Asian and Mexican facilities of a multinational firm that produces outboard motors and boats. I draw attention to a particular moment in this corporation's history when a group of US - American engineers try to prohibit corporate support for a new product designed by the company's Hong Kong Chinese engineers. When the Asian engineers defy their American colleagues' directives, they are referred to as 'Asian spies' and are threatened with dismissal. In this case, I demonstrate how these nationalist turf-battles inside a corporation are struggles over the form of value itself. They are battles over how the materials of value are recognized as such across a corporation's employees and within the commodities it manufactures.

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