‘Financialization' - What does it mean for Work and Employment?

DCollege Court Portraitate: Thursday 16th October

Venue: College Court, Leicester

The Workshop:

This workshop will address four connected themes.

  • How does financialization impact on ownership and managerial approaches to corporate governance?
  • Has the rise of financial capitalism separated and disconnected business systems from the management of people in the workplace?
  • What capacities do governments have to shape the development of relations between financial organisations and businesses that produce goods and services?
  • What voice, if any, do the representatives of labour and producers have in these increasingly remote markets?


Chaired by Professor Peter Nolan, the workshop will include the following speakers:

Professor Ian Clark - 'Financialization' Another Heathrow Problem! - 'How Did We Get Here and Can We Get Back'?

This paper examines the course of financialization and its contagion effects by focussing on the impact of intermediaries and the diffusion of associated rent seeking behaviour in ownership patterns and related managerial approaches to corporate governance. Such diffusion and impacts divide and detach the interests of financial capital from the real economy not only in financial firms but in non-financial firms too.  The paper goes on to evaluate the capacity of governments, organized labour and producers to shape and contain financialized ownership models, associated transactional portfolio based business models and related financial markets.

Professor Eileen Appelbaum - "Private Equity in the U.S.: Effects on Workers' Pay, Jobs and Pensions"

The presentation will describe the private equity business model, the role of moral hazard, and the distinction between productive activities and rent seeking behavior. It will discuss the effects of private equity buyouts of companies on workers' jobs, wages, and pension fund returns. Ideas will be illustrated with recent cases. It concludes with a brief discussion of smart policies to rein in financial engineering.

Professor Paul Thompson - Financialization and the Workplace: why Labour and the Labour Process Still Matters

Though our knowledge of financialization in the economy and society has grown considerably, there has still been comparatively little emphasis on labour. The disconnected capitalism thesis (Thompson 2003; 2013) inferred causal links between the growth of capital market pressures and firm behaviour that leads to negative outcomes for workers and work-based productivity bargains. It was weaker, however, in specifying the actual mechanisms through which shareholder value pressures are ‘translated’ into workplace outcomes and worker experiences. This paper takes up that challenge and seeks to show such mechanisms operate, seeking to explain why labour and the labour process are still central to value extraction.

Rob Macey, GMB - 'Financialization - What does it mean on the ground?'

The presentation will explain the involvement of private equity in the AA, from the initial de-mutualisation of the Company through to the end of PE involvement earlier this year. The focus will be on a practical analysis of how debt has impacted on individual staff members, HR practices and industrial relations and further the difficulties and successes of GMB Union in challenging the PE backed regime.

To read a review of the conference please click here.

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