Multi-National Corporations

Negotiating Difference: Constructing Selves and Others in a Transnational Apparel Manufacturing Firm


Feldman, Shelley, and Stephanie Buechler. 1998. “Negotiating Difference: Constructing Selves and Others in a Transnational Apparel Manufacturing Firm.” The Sociological Quarterly 39 (4): 623–44.

Authors: Shelley Feldman, Stephanie Buechler


Research on immigrant women workers in the United States and Third World women employed by multinational corporations in export-enclaves has highlighted how global movements of capital and labor are expressed in changing labor processes, working conditions, and ethnic relations in the workplace. Notably absent from this body of literature are the ways in which rural, white American women respond to the new work environments offered by direct foreign investments in the United States. Using in-depth interviews with workers and observations of the workplace and the community we explore how the Japanese purchase of an apparel manufacturing firm in upstate New York reconstituted factory floor relations. In so doing, we extend interpretations of the social construction of the labor process by recognizing the racialized and ethnicized character of rural white women. We also show how both workers and managers construct stereotypic expectations of the other that are manipulated on the shop floor in the struggle for control, recognition, and appreciation.

Topics: Economies, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Multi-National Corporations, Race Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan, United States of America

Year: 1998

Lipstick evangelism: Avon trading circles and gender empowerment in South Africa


Dolan, Catherine, and Linda Scott. 2009. “Lipstick Evangelism: Avon Trading Circles and Gender Empowerment in South Africa.” Gender and Development 17 (2): 203–18.

Authors: Catherine Dolan, Linda Scott


Increasing numbers of corporations are vying to capture one of the largest untapped consumer markets – the world's poor – in ways that are not only economically profitable but socially responsible. One type of initiative that has gained increased traction is trading partnerships between multinational corporations and women's informal exchange networks, creating micro-enterprise opportunities that not only deliver soap and mobile phones, but financial empowerment for women. This article examines one such initiative – the trade in Avon cosmetics. It aims to determine the extent to which the initiative alleviates poverty, and fosters empowerment, among black women in South Africa. It suggests that as unlikely as cosmetics may seem as a vehicle for development, direct sales of beauty products can offer low risk opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs, and form a potentially promising route to gender-equitable poverty reduction.

Keywords: gender empowerment, poverty reduction, consumer goods, partnerships, markets

Topics: Development, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2009

“Bottom Power:” Theorizing Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Sierra Leone (1981-2007)


Day, Lynda R. 2008. “‘Bottom Power:’ Theorizing Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Sierra Leone (1981-2007).” African and Asian Studies 7 (4): 491–513.

Author: Lynda R. Day


This paper examines the theory and praxis of women’s political activism in contemporary Sierra Leone. In spite of the steady upswing in the number of women elected or appointed to positions of political authority, the growing influence of women in politics runs into male resistance which privately and derisively refers to women’s newly held positions of authority and public clout as “bottom power.” This essay proposes that male pushback results from a neo-liberal women’s movement that frames women’s economic marginality and lack of access to political power as the result of patriarchy and male privilege, rather than using an African feminist framework which recognizes women’s lack of resources as primarily the result of the appropriation of the country’s wealth by multinational corporations, lending agencies and members of the elite. If viewed from this perspective, the women’s movement would be framed as a socially transformative struggle for all sectors of society, and not as a contest between men and women for power.

Keywords: Sierra Leone, African women, women’s social movements, African feminism, fifty/fifty, women’s political activism

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Multi-National Corporations, Political Participation Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2008

Gender, Class, and Work: The Complex Impacts of Globalization


Brumley, Krista M. 2010. “Gender, Class, and Work: The Complex Impacts of Globalization.” Edited by M. T. Segal. Interactions and Intersections of Gendered Bodies at Work, at Home, And At Play 14: 95–119.

Author: Krista Brumley


Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the literature on work, gender, and globalization using an intersectional approach.

Methodology – The data for this chapter are derived from two years of qualitative fieldwork at a Mexican multinational corporation. I conducted in-depth, semistructured interviews with 86 employees at all levels of the organizational hierarchy as well as content analysis of the company magazine.

Findings – My findings suggest that globalization leads to similar benefits for women and men, with respect to autonomy and decision making in the workplace, but are framed distinctly depending on class. Globalization is gendered in that it offers an additional benefit of economic independence to women. Women at different levels of occupational prestige, however, experience the globalizing process in diverse ways. I conclude by suggesting that globalization results in a tension within the company in how to incorporate female workers in a more meaningful manner.

Originality/value of chapter – Research on globalization in the developing world primarily examines factory workers or women in certain occupations, such as domestic workers. This study focuses on an overlooked group of workers that includes female and male white-collar workers. It offers a comparative analysis of the gendered and class-based effects of globalization on workers of different ranks within the same company. Most globalization studies on Mexico center on the Maquila industry, whereas this study examines workers in a Mexican-owned international company.

Topics: Class, Economies, Gender, Globalization, International Organizations, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 2010

Gender Equality as Smart Economics? A Critique of the 2012 World Development Report


Roberts, Adrienne, and Susan Soederberg. 2012. “Gender Equality as Smart Economics: A Critique of the 2012 World Development Report.” Third World Quarterly 33 (5): 949–68.

Authors: Adrienne Roberts, Susan Soederberg


Business now plays an increasingly prominent role in development. While the implicit links between private actors and international development institutions have been widely debated, the explicit role of financial corporations in shaping official development policy has been less well documented. We employ a feminist Marxian analysis to examine the material and discursive landscape of the 2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development. Its exclusive focus on gender equality as ‘smart economics’, and the central role accorded to leading financial corporations like Goldman Sachs in the formulation of the key World Bank recommendations enable us to explore the changing landscape of the neoliberal corporatisation of develop- ment. We argue, first, that the apolitical and ahistorical representation of gender and gender equality in the WDR serves to normalise spaces of informality and insecurity, thereby expunging neoliberal-led capitalist relations of exploitation and domination, which characterise the social context in which many women in the global South live. Second, the WDR represents the interest of corporations in transforming the formerly excluded segments of the South (women) into consumers and entrepreneurs. The WDR thus represents an attempt by the World Bank and its ‘partners’ to deepen and consolidate the fundamental values and tenets of capitalist interests.


Topics: Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Poverty, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Financial Institutions, Multi-National Corporations, Political Economies

Year: 2012

New Plantations, New Workers: Gender and Production Politics in the Dominican Republic


Raynolds, Laura T. 2001. “New Plantations, New Workers: Gender and Production Politics in the Dominican Republic.” Gender and Society 15 (1): 7–28.

Author: Laura T. Raynolds


This study analyzes the gendered nature of recent production and labor force restructuring in the Dominican Republic. Using a longitudinal case study of work relations on a large transnational corporate pineapple plantation, the author explores the production politics involved in the initial corporate attempt to create a wage labor force and the subsequent replacement of employees with contracted labor crews. She demonstrates how female, and then male, labor forces were negotiated in this process and how labor relations became embedded in local gendered institutions. The study reveals how workforces and spheres of work are constituted through struggles over gender, as well as ethnicity and class, in intersecting arenas linking the local community to the global economy. In this case, gender proves critical in shaping both worker identity and the shifting scope and form of resistance to plantation practices.

Topics: Class, Economies, Ethnicity, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Globalization, Livelihoods, Multi-National Corporations, Political Economies Regions: Americas, Caribbean countries Countries: Dominican Republic

Year: 2001

The Abject Bodies of the Maquiladora Female Workers on a Globalized Border


Taylor, Guadalupe. 2010. “The Abject Bodies of the Maquiladora Female Workers on a Globalized Border.” Race, Gender & Class 17 (3/4): 349–63.

Author: Guadalupe Taylor


 The topic of the body has been analyzed from a variety of perspectives. Although biology does not define women, it cannot be denied that women's bodies play a major role in determining their lives. This paper will question the universalism of materialist feminist theories to explain the violence against the bodies of female maquiladora workers. First, I will present Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler's conceptualizations of the female body. Second, I will analyze if the Socialist feminist theory is broad enough to encompass the bodies of maquiladora workers in its analysis. Finally, I will advocate the need for conceiving a transcultural-transnational feminist approach that includes class, gender, culture, state, globalization, free-trade agreements, and phenotype of women who work in the maquiladora industry. It seems necessary to formulate an approach that considers a broad scope of issues that affect maquiladora workers who form part of the proletariat on the border between the United States and México. Since the Mexican government exempt of taxes to US companies that opened factories on the border, NAFTA has turned Mexico in an excellent source of profits for transnational companies based on the exploitation of Mexican workers, mainly female workers. The patriarchal state and capitalism have reinserted women in a space where they have lost citizenship and where their bodies have become abject objects for the benefit of globalized industrial production. I suggest that a transcultural-transnational feminist approach is needed to explain and to foster an agenda for improving the plight of the maquiladora workers. This approach is suitable for this population because it includes class, gender, culture, State, capitalism, free trade agreements, and the phenotypes of all women.

Keywords: abject, maquiladora workers, borders, body, ethnicity, social class, patriarchy, gender, race, oppression, capitalism, feminism, materialism, Marxism, feminist theory, indigenous, praxis, disapora, transcultural, transnational, western, mexico, mexican

Topics: Citizenship, Class, Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Femininity/ies, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Globalization, Indigenous, Livelihoods, Multi-National Corporations, Political Economies, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 2010

Dangerous Places and Nimble Fingers: Discourses of Gender Discrimination and Rights in Global Corporations


Poster, Winifred R. 2001. “Dangerous Places and Nimble Fingers: Discourses of Gender Discrimination and Rights in Global Corporations.” International Journal of Politics, Culture & Society 15 (1): 77-105.

Author: Winifred R. Poster


This paper considers how women's employment rights are being constructed in multinational corporations by examining three high-tech organizations-a U.S. company in Silicon Valley, its subsidiary in New Delhi, India, and a comparable local Indian company. It first describes the legal frameworks for addressing gender employment discrimination by state governments in India and the United States. Then it examines how these frameworks are appropriated and negotiated within the local contexts of the workplaces in the study. Finally, it reflects on recent transnational attempts to legislate and enforce women's employment rights in multinational corporations, specifically the challenges that such attempts face in light of the three case studies.

Keywords: Gender, women's rights, employment discrimination, multinational corporation, international labor standards

Topics: Economies, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Governance, Multi-National Corporations, Political Economies, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: India, United States of America

Year: 2001

Women in Multinational Corporations: Old Myths, New Constructions and Some Deconstruction


Dallalfar, Arlene, and Siamak Movahedi. 1996. “Women in Multinational Corporations: Old Myths, New Constructions and Some Deconstruction.” Organization 3 (4): 546–59.

Authors: Arlene Dallalfar, Siamak Movahedi


When compared with domestic business operations, multinational corporations include fewer women at managerial levels in their foreign subsidiaries. Debates have ensued regarding whether women's absences from these positions are due to lack of the particular managerial abilities required for international assignments. In this article we argue that too much has been assumed about the sociopsychological requirements for international management, both for men and women. Through critical re-analyses of data from a previous study we contend that understanding 'women's advantages/disadvantages' in international management requires understanding women's structural positions in the First World-Third World political economy.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Multi-National Corporations, Political Economies

Year: 1996

MNCs and micro-entrepreneurship in emerging economies: The case of Avon in the Amazon


Chelekis, Jessica, and Susan M. Mudambi. 2010. “MNCs and Micro-Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies: The Case of Avon in the Amazon.” Journal of International Management 16 (4): 412–24.

Authors: Jessica Chelekis, Susan M. Mudambi


This article examines the activities of multinational corporations (MNCs) in the direct sales industry through an ethnographic case study of micro-entrepreneurship in the Brazilian Amazon. In large emerging economies, intra-country heterogeneity poses challenges for MNCs. Because national trends often obscure regional variations, the case study highlights the realities of the rural Amazon, and the specific challenges and potential for MNCs. Findings from the case study support three propositions. The development of direct sales networks in remote areas facilitates: (1) additional entrepreneurship, and encourages a progression from necessity to opportunity entrepreneurship; (2) social change in gender norms, including higher level of female empowerment and decision-making within families and communities; and (3) a reconciliation of local and global values on beauty and fashion for customers, leading to stronger brand relationships. By leveraging micro-entrepreneurship, MNCs can compete with local firms, even in rural areas lacking basic infrastructure, to the benefit of communities and individuals.

Keywords: Emerging economies, entrepreneurship, ethnography, direct selling, Gender, Base of the pyramid

Topics: Economies, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Brazil

Year: 2009


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