Global production networks and management controls: an empire perspective

Ganna, Mona Atef Abdelkhalek (2017) Global production networks and management controls: an empire perspective. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of the role of management control practices in global production networks (GPNs). The research is informed by a case study of an Egyptian garment factory that acts as a supplier for a French retailer of sports clothes. This thesis is inspired by its empirics. In Egypt, most of the exporting factories in the garment industry work as suppliers to foreign retailers or branders. This supplier-customer relationship is founded on the mutual transfer of knowledge from the customer. This is manifested in their requirements in terms of the product specification, quality and time of delivery. However, these are not the only requirements. In order for the factory to be selected as a supplier to the foreign retailers, the factory undergoes a detailed process of auditing in which the customer practices their negotiating power in asking for specific changes in the factory in terms of the factory’s structuring practices, human rights practices, quality control procedures, as well as management control practices. The management control requirements include cost reduction strategies, performance measurements, and reward systems for workers. The factory’s management collaborate with the customer’s team in order to apply these changes. The customer depends on visual information tags that are hung all over the factory, and electronic reports, as well as the physical attendance and observation of their team members as communication mediators through which they diffuse the required knowledge throughout the factory and view the factory’s operations. Techniques such as expanding the workers’ skills, self- and peer controls and group rewards are gradually taking place on the shop floor in order to meet the requirements of the customer. The relationship between the supplier and the customer is theorized within the framework of what is called global production networks or ‘GPNs’. GPNs are argued to be the geographic consequence of the movement from a modern to a postmodern economy. A postmodern economy is an informational economy in which advanced capitalist countries have decentralized the production processes to subordinate countries. Drawing from the theoretical framework developed by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in 2000 in Empire and extended by the work of Gilles Deleuze in 1992 in Postscript on the Societies of Control, this thesis argues that GPNs are used as one of the postmodern economic mechanisms that are facilitating the transformation of forms of power from discipline to control. As a response to this transformation, new forms of management controls are emerging in the factories of subordinate countries (i.e. the suppliers). The findings of this study show the importance of developing the technology used in both the production of goods and the communication of information within and out of the boundaries of the factory. This technology will support the development of the factory along the production network as well as improving the visibility of the factory’s operations to achieve instant and continuous control.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: GPNs, Empire, society of control, disciplinary controls, management controls.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Wickramasinghe, Professor Danture and McKernan, Professor John
Date of Award: 2017
Embargo Date: 4 July 2020
Depositing User: Miss Mona Ganna
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8296
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 13:01
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2017 10:04
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8296

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