The Identified Worker: How Workers in Developing Economies Respond to the Transfer of Work Systems from Developed Economies

The Identified Worker: How Workers in Developing Economies Respond to the Transfer of Work Systems from Developed Economies

July 30,2018Working Paper No. 3722

Workers in developing economies face changing environments as work systems are brought in from developed economies. Under what conditions do these workers cooperate with or resist the importation of outside work institutions, management practices, and technologies? This question is important because the success of such transfers depends on worker support. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data studying four occupations in India experiencing the importation of new work systems, I find there is variation in whether workers cooperate or resist. I argue that in developing economies, beyond economic and cultural considerations for how workers react to new work systems, one novel factor influencing whether a work system is met with cooperation or resistance is how it interacts with workers’ identification with their occupational communities, organizations, and existing work processes. This paper advances scholarship on employment in developing countries, the transfer of work systems across economies, and workers’ identification with their work.