Industrial redundancies : a comparative analysis of the chemical and clothing industries on Teesside (UK) and Brindisi (I)
This thesis develops an alternative to the neo-classical approach to redundancies. The study assumes that the employment relation is not reducible to the labour contract and, therefore, cannot be subjected exclusively to the monetary exchange. It focuses on the intermediate formal and informal institutions that, by entering the process of wage determination and regulating the relationship between capital and labour, constitute a critical factor in explaining industrial and employment change. In doing so, it suggests a complementarity between macro-economic perspectives (e.g. the Keynesian approach, the Schumpeterian theory and Marxist perspective), preference models on industrial unemployment and the insights of the old institutionalist tradition. Industrial restructuring and redundancies are conceptualised as institutionally constructed processes and geographically situated. Rather than envisaging the convergence of firms towards a single, uniform form of restructuring synonymous with redundancies, the thesis holds that corporate adjustments are neither uniform, nor the result of profit maximising behaviours. Redundancies are subject to the actions and strategies of individuals and groups that influence the process of wage determination and, through it, the definition and the pursuit of profitability and efficiency. By considering institutional relations, shaped by external factors, cultural conditions and sedimented practices, the thesis highlights the spatial specificity of restructuring processes and redundancies. The thesis explores processes of corporate restructuring and redundancies in two industrial areas, Teesside (UK) and Brindisi (I), by drawing upon the evidence from two industries: the chemicals and the clothing sectors. Contrary to market-centred analyses, the evidence shows that similar economic pressures have generated different responses in the two sectors and among companies of the same sector. In addition, by focusing on the local environment in which companies are embedded, the thesis reveals how place-specific social and historical practices represent important variables to explain redundancy processes in the two areas.