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Contemporary form and dynamic of the international division of labour

With increasing global capitalist structures there is a need to advance understanding of the structure and dynamic of the contemporary international division of labour. This can be approached through a critical enquiry: first to define and identify key aspects of the nature and dynamic of the international division of labour out of existing discourses and second to develop and modify the conceptualisation by the Regulation Approach theorist, Lipietz of a 'third' international division of labour in the light of contemporary developments since the early 1990s. Lipietz' third international division of labour supposes a co-existence of diverse national models of development in an international trading space where diversity arises from the different pathways states take to re-regulate the crisis form of the Fordist capital-labour relation. In contrast, the critique of the third international division of labour developed here argues for converging counter-tendencies, particularly among advanced capitalist states towards a Toyotist technological paradigm - a term used to encompass both the form of the new international best practice production system and the corresponding segmented form of national labour markets. These counter-tendencies are driven by a neo-liberalised international mode of regulation constraining states towards neo-liberal competition states. The mode of neo-liberal labour market regulation in turn flexibilises labour markets. Neo-liberal labour market regulations permissive of labour market flexibility re-segment existing labour market segments established in the Fordist capital-labour relation. This re-segmentation broadens and deepens existing labour market segments and incorporates both involvement and flexibility in the labour relation and flexibility in the wage relation by treating different labour market segments in different ways. This ability to re-segment labour market segments enables multinationals to reproduce the technological paradigm of economies of scale and scope in international production systems. This capitallabour relation is termed the 'inconsistent hybrid' because it succeeds in reproducing production relations of worker involvement in the labour process with externalised wage relations within the same social formation. The central argument of the thesis is that at the national level, among developed nation states at least, there is a converging tendency towards national models of production in which the inconsistent hybrid capital-labour relation is dominant. More exactly, each national trajectory increasingly reflects different sides of the same tendency which could be termed Toyotism. Lipietz' third international division of labour is thus identified as less profound and closing towards functionally equivalent versions of the inconsistent hybrid.
Type of thesis
O’Neil, P. J. (2006). Contemporary form and dynamic of the international division of labour (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12702
The University of Waikato
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