check out these articles on (1) outsourcing in India and (2) participatory practices
Looking for new articles to assign to your undergrads? Want to read up on the latest in organizations and work or search for research ideas on where the field should held? Have a look at freshly minted articles by two of our emeriti orgtheory guest bloggers in the Organization and Work section of Sociology Compass. (Full disclosure: I am a co-editor of this section)
Globalization, we used to think, meant the movement of manufacturing jobs to the developing world. It brought work to regions that needed it, while dislocating the lives of the working classes in the richer countries. That was until it moved into the information technology and service sectors at the turn of the century. This article examines the globalization of white-collar service work, with a view to its impact on emerging economies like India. The bulk of evidence suggests that while offshore outsourcing benefits the middle class in receiving countries, it does not appreciably expand it. Nor does it reliably produce upward mobility or recognizable career paths or even significant upskilling – most of the work being outsourced is rote and standardized. It produces decent jobs in holding patterns. And there are more and more of them as corporations look to continue cutting costs. Rather than authors of their own destinies, corporations have made of countries in the global south their willing and faithful scribes. I first provide a bird’s eye view of what is happening and then look more closely at discoveries on the ground.
The literature on participatory practices in organizations has been less coherent and more limited to subspecialties than the literature on bureaucracy in organizations – despite a number of celebrated studies of participation in 20th century American sociology. Due to the practical nature of participatory reforms and the ambiguity of participation as a concept, attempts to review participatory knowledge have a tendency to focus on refining definitions and clarifying frameworks within subfields. This article instead provides a broad thematic overview of three different types of research on participation in organizations, all critical to an understanding of today’s dramatic expansion of participatory practices across a variety of organizations. Classic research studied participation as dynamic and central to organizational legitimacy. Institutional design research has focused on participation as a stand-alone governance reform with promising empowerment potential, but mixed results in domains such as health care, environmental politics, and urban planning. Finally, recent research seeks to place participatory practices in the context of shifting relationships between authority, voice, and inequality in the contemporary era. The article concludes with suggestions for building on all three categories of research by exploring what is old and new in the 21st century’s changing participatory landscape.