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Labor Rights and Multinational Production


  • 18 b/w illus. 10 tables
  • Page extent: 306 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.41 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521694414)

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$24.99 (P)

Labor Rights and Multinational Production investigates the relationship between workers’ rights and multinational production. Mosley argues that some types of multinational production, embodied in directly owned foreign investment, positively affect labor rights. But other types of international production, particularly subcontracting, can engender competitive races to the bottom in labor rights. To test these claims, Mosley presents newly generated measures of collective labor rights, covering a wide range of low- and middle-income nations for the 1985–2002 period. This book suggests that the consequences of economic openness for developing countries are highly dependent on foreign firms’ modes of entry and, more generally, on the precise way in which each developing country engages the global economy. The book contributes to academic literature in comparative and international political economy, and to public policy debates regarding the effects of globalization.


1. Working in the global economy; 2. Producing globally; 3. Inside and out: the determinants of labor rights; 4. Conceptualizing workers' rights; 5. The overall picture: economic globalization and workers' rights; 6. Varieties of capitalists? The diversity of multinational production; 7. Labor rights, economic development, and domestic politics: a case study; 8. Conclusions and issues for the future.


“This is a must-read book for scholars, students, activists and policy makers who are interested in understanding the effects of the global economy—especially foreign direct investment and export-oriented development policies—on labor rights. Many leaders of developing countries believe attracting more foreign direct investment and increasing exports are the best tools for achieving economic progress. However, there is a nagging concern that increasing economic competition among the governments of developing countries for trade and foreign direct investment is causing a race to the bottom. Some globalization critics claim that workers in relatively economically globalized developing countries are becoming progressively worse off. But is economic globalization to blame for the worsening conditions of many of the world’s workers? In this book, Layna Mosley gives a fresh, balanced, and nuanced answer to this question. She tests her theoretical arguments using both state-of-the art quantitative analysis and a case study of labor rights in Costa Rica.”
—David Cingranelli, State University of New York, Binghamton

“Scholars, policymakers, activists, and others have long been concerned about the impact of multinational corporations on the conditions of workers in developing countries. Layna Mosley provides us with an impressive treatment of the problem. She argues for a nuanced understanding of how foreign corporations and foreign trade affect labor rights, arguing that this impact depends on the type of multinational corporate involvement, on circumstances in nearby countries, and on domestic political considerations. Mosley then provides an extensive, thorough statistical evaluation of these effects, as well as an illuminating case study of Costa Rica. The result is an analytically insightful, empirically careful investigation of one of the more important political and economic issues in today’s world. Mosley’s Labor Rights and Multinational Production will be of great interest to anyone concerned about the impact of globalization on labor around the world.
—Jeffry Frieden, Harvard University

Labor Rights and Multinational Production presents both a compelling and meticulously-supported argument that globalization — far from creating sweatshop conditions for all third-world workers — can, under certain circumstances, also lead to fair working conditions and improved labor rights. Through a combination of documentary evidence, analysis of a unique data set linking workers’ rights and the global economy, and careful case studies, Mosley shows that what matters most to labor rights outcomes is the way multinational corporations organize their production activities. Whether MNCs directly own and manage their overseas production facilities or simply outsource their production to third-party subcontractors impacts worker rights in important and at times dramatic ways. This is an impressive and important new book that will shape the way we understand globalization and labor rights for years to come. With this book, Mosley has emerged as one of her generation’s leading scholars of international political economy.”
—Richard M. Locke, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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