Japanese Foreign Direct Investment: Varieties of Capitalism, Employment Practices and Worker Resistance in Poland
Bancarzewski, Maciej Albert
This research contributes to an understanding of Japanese Foreign Investment (JFDI) in Poland, by using a Variety of Capitalism approach and drawing on literature from employment relations. It examines firstly, the extent to which Japanese production and managerial institutions and practices can be transplanted to different economic and cultural environments; and secondly, the character of workers’ response towards these practices, in the context of JFDI in Poland. It draws on primary data drawn from interviews conducted with the managers and workers in five firms in a Japanese electronics manufacturing cluster in Toruń, Northern Poland, as well as the policy makers, researchers and journalists on a regional level. First, the transfer of Japanese management ‘style’ is considered in terms of recruitment, training practices, issues of monitoring and discipline and quality assurance policies. This study reveals that the transfer of Japanese typical practices is of minor importance to Japanese corporations based in Poland, and the character of these practices in the Polish workplace is peripheral. However, the subordination of labour is brought by the precarisation of employment, rather than the implementation of Japanese quality policies. Second, the focus of the research is on the response of workers and finds that they did not remain passive actors in this process and resisted the adapted form of Japanisation in Poland. Although the role of formal trade unions was limited, the data pointed to other forms of resistance, both conventional and novel, from sabotage, absenteeism, humour to insubordination and the use of blogging sites. In the context of the researched labour process, the empirical findings point to markers of collectivism in all forms of worker resistance and hence identified that the collective worker not only has not disappeared from both the labour process debate and the workplace itself, but, even if not evidently, is present through the resistance to management practices and control.