Neoliberal and neostructuralist theories of competitiveness and flexible labor: The case of Chile's manufactured exports, 1973-1996
How have the neoliberal concept of "comparative advantage" and the neostructuralist concept of "systemic competitiveness" interacted with State and capitalist efforts to exert control over labor during the transition from ISI to export-oriented accumulation? How have neoliberal and neostructuralist modes of conceptualizing export competitiveness impacted upon the organization of production, the labor process and the reproduction of labor power in Chile?
Grounded on these questions, this dissertation examines how these two schools conceive export-competitiveness and make it operational through different export-promotion policies. Particular attention is placed on the neostructuralist claim that there exist two distinct and separate paths to reach competitiveness: a spurious form attained at the expense of workers' wages and a genuine form rooted in the absorption of technical change. Based on aggregate macroeconomic and macrosocial data, ISIC data at the 3 digit level for manufacturing, as well as three case studies--in textile and metal-working--this dissertation examines whether productive efficiency and export-competitiveness has been attained through a reduction of labor costs, technological innovation, or a combination of both that defies the clear-cut dichotomy posited by neostructuralism.
Based on the study of manufacturing exports--where allegedly a 'virtuous circle' would allow for concomitant increases in wages, productivity and the establishment of social accords at the enterprise-level--this dissertation concludes that export competitiveness is rooted in socially constructed relations of power ignored by both neoliberal and neostructuralist theories.
0510: Labor economics
0629: Labor relations