South Korea's automotive labour regime, Hyundai Motors’ global production network and trade‐based integration with the European Union

Campling, Liam, Harrison, James, Richardson, Ben, Smith, Adrian and Barbu, Mirela (2019) South Korea's automotive labour regime, Hyundai Motors’ global production network and trade‐based integration with the European Union. British Journal of Industrial Relations. pp. 1-28. ISSN 0007-1080

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Abstract

This article explores the interrelationship between global production networks(GPNs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) in the South Korean auto industry and its employment relations. It focuses on the production network of the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) — the third biggest automobile manufacturer in the world — and the FTA between the EU and South Korea. This was the first of the EU’s ‘new generation’ FTAs, which among other things contained provisions designed to protect and promote labour standards. The article’s argument is twofold. First, that HMG’s production network and Korea’s political economy (of which HMG is a crucial part) limited the possibilities for the FTA’s labour provisions to take effect. Second, that the commercial provisions in this same FTA simultaneously eroded HMG’s domestic market and corporate profitability, leading to adverse consequences for auto workers in the more
insecure and low-paid jobs. In making this argument, the article advances a multiscalar conceptualization of the labour regime as an analytical intermediary between GPNs and FTAs. It also provides one of the first empirical studies of the EU–South Korea FTA in terms of employment relations, drawing on 105 interviews with trade unions, employer associations, automobile companies and state officials across both parties.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: automotive, global value chains, labour standards, EU free trade agreements, South Korea, Hyundai Motors
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD4801 Labour. Work. Working class
Depositing User: Mirela Barbu
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2020 08:43
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 08:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/89362

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