This INDIVIDUAL PAPER may be viewed by clicking the blue VIEW PRESENTATION button (located across from the presenter's name/below the title) OR the View Presentation in the footer of this pop-up.
The US and International Actors in Cambodian Labor Politics
Individual Paper Presenter(s)
Pennsylvania State University, United States
This study explores the roles and impacts of the US and international actors on the labor movement in Cambodia in the global era. In specific, the study examines the process of industrial relations (IR) system building and the reactions and responses of labor unions. Globalization has created a favorable environment for international actors to be engaged with national labor affairs which has been assumed an arena only for domestic actors. Drawing on fieldwork, I analyze the process with a theoretical frame of ‘institutional implantation,’ in which international actors have used idealized models of the IR systems derived from their institutional experiences and goals. In Cambodia, international actors mainly the US but also including the ILO and international apparel brands, have played a crucial role to build and operate specific IR institutions such as the workplace monitoring and arbitration systems. These implanted institutions frequently failed to bring expected outcomes, that is, reducing industrial actions, due to the exogenous features of the institutions that have few historical legacies nor supporting foundations, essential to function properly. More importantly, I contend that such implantation has led to short-term gains for labor unions to provide tools to do the international campaign. However, institutional implantation resulted in specific union practices such as heavy dependence on international actors, the proliferation of small unions, and focus mainly on complying with existing laws. Furthermore, it will hamper their long-term effectiveness with the possibility of reducing gains, promoting economic unionism, and depriving opportunities to develop international democracy in labor movements.