Bending workplace institutions in transforming economies : foreign investment in Poland
This article examines the way in which foreign investment in the transforming economies of Central and Eastern Europe has been deeply concerned with shifting informal collective and individual understandings about economic behaviour in the workplace. The framework of the analysis is institutionalist, drawing on the idea that markets are socially embedded and politically instituted. Informal institutions are central to the analysis; in particular, their content, creation and recreation and contestation. Further, it is argued that enabling myths have been used to to displace the legacies associated with Communist workplaces to promulgate a set of ideas and institutions considered to be in line with competitive markets. Intense competition means that firms cannot wait for these ideas to change in an evolutionary way and therefore agents are actively engaged in transferring these myths across national boundaries through circuits of intellectual capital. The main agents for the diffusion of a new set of values associated with the market economy at the level of the workplace have been foreign investors. The entry and restructuring of two flagship investments are used to illustrate how firms have transferred corporate values across national boundaries to displace what were regarded as unsuitable mindsets associated with the previous regime.