Labour and production borders. Outsourcing in contemporary capitalism

Author/s Francesco E. Iannuzzi, Devi Sacchetto
Publishing Year 2022 Issue 2022/164 Language Italian
Pages 22 P. 140-161 File size 252 KB
DOI 10.3280/SL2022-164008
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

This article analyses the multidimensional and interrelated impacts of outsourcing on labour. Outsourcing has experienced a strong diffusion in the last decades, spreading across various areas, firms and sectors. Its ability to adapt to different social and regu- latory situations has made it one of the main instruments of production restructuring, leading some researchers to consider it a paradigmatic form of the organisation of con- temporary capitalism. Although much of the emphasis in the sociological literature on the implications of outsourcing has been placed upon the transformation of employ- ment regimes, the worsening of working conditions and challenges to workers' repre- sentation, we find that other dimensions of labour relations are also generally impacted, including the labour process, wage determination, workplace politics and the social composition of the workforce. By reviewing and combining some strands of literature, we argue that the paradigmatic character of outsourcing, in addition to its great wide- spread at the global level, must be found in its ability to trigger multiple and chained processes of transformation that deeply modify the employment relationship.

Keywords: Outsourcing, Labour regime, Labour processes, Workforce composition

  1. Anner M., Fischer-Daly M., Maffie M. (2021). Fissured Employment and Network Bargaining: Emerging Employment Relations Dynamics in a Contingent World of Work. ILR Review, 74(3): 689-714. DOI: 10.1177/001979392096418
  2. Arunatilake N. (2012). Precarious Work in Sri Lanka. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(4): 488-506. DOI: 10.1177/000276421246624
  3. Autor D.H., Levy F., Murnane R.J. (2003). The Skill Content of Recent Technolog- ical Change: An Empirical Exploration. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4): 1279-1333. DOI: 10.1162/00335530332255280
  4. Azmeh S. (2014). Labour in global production networks: workers in the qualifying industrial zones (QIZs) of Egypt and Jordan. Global Networks, 14(4): 495-513.
  5. Benassi C., Dorigatti L. (2020). Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Challenge of Exter- nal Work Arrangements for Industrial Manufacturing Unions in Germany and Italy. Work, Employment and Society, 34(6): 1027-1044. DOI: 10.1177/095001702090303
  6. Benassi C., Kornelakis A. (2021). How Do Employers Choose between Types of Contingent Work? Costs, Control, and Institutional Toying. ILR Review, 74(3): 715-738. DOI: 10.1177/001979392094491
  7. Benvegnù C. (2018). Nelle officine della circolazione. Un'etnografia del lavoro lo- gistico tra il Grand Paris e la metropoli diffusa veneta. Tesi di dottorato. Uni- versità di Padova.
  8. Berg J. (2019). Protecting Workers in the Digital Age: Technology, Outsourcing and the Growing Precariousness of Work. SSRN Report. -- Testo disponibile al sito:
  9. Berntsen L., Lillie N. (2015). Breaking the law? Varieties of social dumping in a pan-European labour market. In: Bernaciak M., a cura di, Market Expansion and Social Dumping in Europe. London: Routledge.
  10. Calafà L. (2021). Per un approccio multidimensionale allo sfruttamento lavorativo. Lavoro e diritto, 2: 193-213. DOI: 10.1441/10086
  11. Ceccagno A. (2017). City Making and Global Labor Regimes: Chinese Immigrants and Italy’s Fast Fashion Industry. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  12. Cecchi M.E., Sacchetto D. (2019). Assemblaggi di frontiera. Le operaie della Foxconn a Ciudad Juárez, Messico. Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa, 1: 3-28. DOI: 10.3240/9366
  13. Cillo R., Perocco F. (2016). Subappalto e sfruttamento differenziale dei lavoratori immigrati. Il caso di tre settori in Italia. Economia e Società Regionale, 1: 101-123. DOI: 10.3280/ES2016-00100
  14. Corrado A., De Castro C., Perrotta D., a cura di (2017). Migration and agriculture: mobility and change in the Mediterranean area. London: Routledge.
  15. Davis-Blake A., Broschak J.P. (2009). Outsourcing and the Changing Nature of Work. Annual Review of Sociology, 35(1): 321-340.
  16. Dekker F., Koster F. (2018). Outsourcing in 18 European countries: The role of worker power. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 39(3): 481-499. DOI: 10.1177/0143831X1663376
  17. Dicken P. (2011). Global Shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world econ- omy. London: Sage.
  18. Doellgast V., Greer I. (2007). Vertical Disintegration and the Disorganization of German Industrial Relations. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 45(1): 55-76.
  19. Doellgast V.L., Lillie N., Pulignano V., a cura di (2018). Reconstructing solidarity: labour unions, precarious work, and the politics of institutional change in Eu- rope. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  20. Drahokoupil J. (2015). The outsourcing challenge: organizing workers across frag- mented production networks. Brussels: ETUI.
  21. Flecker J., Meil P. (2010). Organisational restructuring and emerging service value chains: Implications for work and employment. Work, Employment and Society, 24(4): 680-698. DOI: 10.1177/095001701038063
  22. Frosecchi G., Orlandini G. (2021). Esternalizzazione del core business nel settore alimentare: il caso Italpizza. Lavoro e diritto, 2: 347-357,
  23. Goldschmidt D., Schmieder J.F. (2017). The Rise of Domestic Outsourcing and the Evolution of the German Wage Structure. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 132(3): 1165-1217.
  24. Greco L. (2016). Capitalismo e sviluppo nelle catene globali del valore. Roma: Carocci.
  25. Grimshaw D., Cartwright J., Keizer A., Rubery J. (2019). Market Exposure and the Labour Process: The Contradictory Dynamics in Managing Subcontracted Ser- vices Work. Work, Employment and Society, 33(1): 76-95. DOI: 10.1177/095001701875920
  26. Hansen C., Mena C., Aktas E. (2019). The role of political risk in service offshoring entry mode decisions. International Journal of Production Research, 57(13): 4244-4260. DOI: 10.1080/00207543.2018.151860
  27. Harrison B. (1994). Lean and Mean. The Changing Landscape of Corporate Power in the Age of Flexibility. New York: Basic Books.
  28. Harrison B., Kelly M.R. (1993). Outsourcing and the search for “flexibility.” Work, Employment and Society, 7(2): 213-235. DOI: 10.1177/09500170937200
  29. Harvey D. (2010). La crisi della modernità. Milano: Il Saggiatore.
  30. Holst H. (2014). ‘Commodifying institutions’: vertical disintegration and institu- tional change in German labour relations. Work, Employment and Society, 28(1): 3-20. DOI: 10.1177/095001701246442
  31. Hürtgen S. (2020). Labour-process-related Racism in Transnational European Pro- duction: Fragmenting Work Meets Xenophobic Culturalisation among Workers. Global Labour Journal, 11(1): 18-33.
  32. Iannuzzi F.E. (2021). Assemblare le differenze. Il lavoro nell’industria alberghiera veneziana. Milano: Guerini e associati.
  33. Iannuzzi F.E. Sacchetto D. (2020). Outsourcing and workers’ resistance practices in Venice’s hotel industry: The role of migrants employed by cooperatives. Eco- nomic and Industrial Democracy. DOI: 10.1177/0143831X2096022
  34. Ilo (2018). Report of ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association. 386th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association. Geneva: Ilo.
  35. Ishizaka A., Bhattacharya A., Gunasekaran A., Dekkers R., Pereira V. (2019). Out- sourcing and offshoring decision making. International Journal of Production Research, 57(13): 4187-4193. DOI: 10.1080/00207543.2019.160369
  36. Kalleberg A.L. (2000). Nonstandard Employment Relations: Part-time, Temporary and Contract Work. Annual Review of Sociology, 26(1): 341-365.
  37. Kalleberg A.L., Rasell E., Cassirer N., Reskin B.F., Hudson K. (1997). Nonstandard Work, Substandard Jobs: Flexible Work Arrangements in the U.S. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.
  38. Kirchner S. (2015). Who performs outsourcing? A cross-national comparison of companies in the EU-28. In: J. Drahokoupil J., a cura di, The Outsourcing chal- lange: organizing workers across fragmented production networks. Bruxelles: ETUI.
  39. Knox A. (2010). ‘Lost in translation’: an analysis of temporary work agency em- ployment in hotels. Work, Employment and Society, 24(3): 449-467. DOI: 10.1177/095001701037165
  40. Kumar K. (2000). Le nuove teorie del mondo contemporaneo: dalla società post- industriale alla società post-moderna. Torino: Einaudi.
  41. Lee T.L., Tapia M. (2021). Confronting Race and Other Social Identity Erasures: The Case for Critical Industrial Relations Theory. ILR Review, 74(3): 637-662. DOI: 10.1177/001979392199208
  42. Lillie N., Wagner I. (2015). Subcontracting, insecurity and posted work: evidence from construction, meat processing and ship building. In: Drahokoupil J., a cura di, The Outsourcing challange: organizing workers across fragmented produc- tion networks, Brussels: ETUI.
  43. Ludovico G. (2020). La responsabilità solidale oltre il contratto di appalto e di sub- fornitura. Rivista del Diritto della Sicurezza Sociale, 3: 497-515. DOI: 10.3241/9843
  44. MacKenzie R. (2000). Subcontracting and the Regulation of the Employment Rela- tionship: A Case Study from the Telecommunications Industry. Work, Employ- ment & Society, 16(4): 707-726. DOI: 10.1177/0950017002211869
  45. Marino S., Penninx R., Roosblad J. (2015). Trade unions, immigration and immi- grants in Europe revisited: Unions’ attitudes and actions under new conditions. Comparative Migration Studies, 3(1): 1-16.
  46. McCallum J.K. (2011), Export processing zones: Comparative data from China, Honduras, Nicaragua and South Africa, International Labour Organization Dia- logue working paper, ILO, Geneva.
  47. McDowell L., Batnitzky A., Dyer S. (2007). Division, segmentation, and interpella- tion: The embodied labors of migrant workers in a Greater London hotel. Eco- nomic Geography, 83(1): 1-25.
  48. Mezzadri A. (2016). Class, gender and the sweatshop: on the nexus between labour commodification and exploitation. Third World Quarterly, 37(10): 1877-1900. DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2016.118023
  49. Mori A. (2017). The impact of public services outsourcing on work and employment conditions in different national regimes. European Journal of Industrial Rela- tions, 23(4): 347-364. DOI: 10.1177/095968011769427
  50. Neo H. (2010). Geographies of Subcontracting. Geography Compass, 4(8): 1013- 1024.
  51. Newsome K., Taylor P., Bair J., Rainnie A., a cura di (2015). Putting Labour in Its Place. Labour Process Analysis and Global Value Chain: London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  52. Peck J. (2017). Offshore. Exploring the Worlds of Global Outsourcing. Oxford: Ox- ford University Press.
  53. Peck J., Theodore N. (2001). Contingent Chicago: Restructuring the spaces of tem- porary labor. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 25: 471-492. DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.0032
  54. Peck J., Theodore N., Ward K. (2005). Constructing markets for temporary labour: employment liberalization and the internationalization of the staffing industry. Global Networks, 5(1): 3-26.
  55. Piore M.J., Sabel C.F. (1984). The Second Industrial Divide. New York: Basic Books.
  56. Piro V., Sacchetto D. (2021). Subcontracted racial capitalism: the interrelationship of race and production in meat processing plants. Work in the Global Economy, 1(1): 33-53.
  57. Pulignano V. (2000). Il mercato in fabbrica: terziarizzazione e relazioni industriali tra rappresentazione e realtà. Studi Organizzativi, 3(1): 105-129.
  58. Quinn J.B. (2000). Outsourcing Innovation: The New Engine of Growth. Sloan Ma- nagement Review, 41(4): 13-28.
  59. Sassen S. (2008). Una sociologia della globalizzazione. Torino: Einaudi.
  60. Seifert A.M., Messing K. (2006). Cleaning Up After Globalization: An Ergonomic Analysis of Work Activity of Hotel Cleaners. Antipode, 38(3): 557-578.
  61. Silver B. (2008). Le forze del lavoro. Movimenti operai e globalizzazione dal 1870. Milano: Mondadori.
  62. Streeck W. (2005). The sociology of labor markets and trade unions. In: Smelse N.J. e Swedberg R., a cura di, The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  63. Tapia M., Alberti G. (2018). Unpacking the Category of Migrant Workers in Trade Union Research: A Multi-Level Approach to Migrant Intersectionalities. Work, Employment and Society, 33(2): 314-325. DOI: 10.1177/095001701878058
  64. Thompson P. (2010). The capitalist labour process: Concepts and connections. Cap- ital & Class, 34(1): 7-14. DOI: 10.1177/030981680935347
  65. Vanselow A., Warhurst C., Bernhardt A., Dresser L. (2009). Hotel Room attendants and job quality: A Comparison of Work, Wages and Labour Market Institutions in Europe and the US. In Gautier J., Schmtti J., a cura di, Low Wage Work in the Wealthy World. New York: RSF.
  66. Williamson O.E. (1981). The Economics of Organization: The Transaction Cost Ap- proach. American Journal of Sociology, 87(3): 548-577. DOI: 10.1086/22749
  67. Wills J. (2006). Subcontracting, labour and trade union organisation: lessons from Homerton Hospital and the London living wage campaign. In The ESRC Identi- ties Programme Working Paper n° 2.
  68. Wills J. (2009). Subcontracted Employment and Its Challenge to Labor. Labor Stud- ies Journal, 34: 441-460. DOI: 10.1177/0160449X0832474
  69. Wood A.J. (2021). Workplace regimes: a sociological defence and elaboration. Work in the Global Economy, 1(1): 119-138.
  70. Young S. (2000). Outsourcing: Lessons from the Literature. Labour & Industry: A Journal of the Social and Economic Relations of Work, 10(3): 97-118. DOI: 10.1080/10301763.2000.1066922
  71. Zilio Grandi G. (2006). I fenomeni di esternalizzazione e decentramento produttivo dopo la riforma del mercato del lavoro. Lavoro e diritto, 2-3: 427-449.

Francesco E. Iannuzzi, Devi Sacchetto, Confini produttivi e confini lavorativi. La multidimensionalità dell’outsourcing nel capitalismo contemporaneo in "SOCIOLOGIA DEL LAVORO " 164/2022, pp 140-161, DOI: 10.3280/SL2022-164008