Table of Contents

Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy

Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by John R. Bryson, Jennifer Clark and Vida Vanchan

This interdisciplinary volume provides a critical and multi-disciplinary review of current manufacturing processes, practices, and policies, and broadens our understanding of production and innovation in the world economy. Chapters highlight how firms and industries modify existing processes to produce for established and emerging markets through dynamic and design-driven strategies. This approach allows readers to view transformations in production systems and processes across sectors, technologies and industries. Contributors include scholars ranging from engineering to policy to economic geography. The evidence demonstrates that manufacturing continues to matter in the world economy.

Chapter 2: Manufacturing and labor

Sally Weller

Subjects: business and management, strategic management, geography, economic geography, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Manufacturing is an important source of employment in both advanced and developing economies. In 2010, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), manufacturing industries employed in excess of 670 million people worldwide and accounted directly for 26 percent of men’s and 16 percent of women’s jobs (ILO, 2012). In the United States, although manufacturing industries shed about four million jobs in the ten years 1998–2008, they still employed over 12 million people in 2012 and accounted for 9 percent of total non-farm employment (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). In addition, many jobs found in the service industries rely on manufacturing activity. This chapter provides a critical overview of labor’s role in and contribution to manufacturing. It restricts its scope to direct employment in manufacturing industries.The need to harness individual skills, abilities and effort to collective ends makes the efficient and productive organization of work tasks crucial to the competitiveness of manufacturing firms in capitalist economies. Although human labor is an essential input into any manufacturing process, it differs from other inputs in important ways. In the first place, it is not “produced” for the purpose of work and firms cannot control its rate of production (i.e. the population growth rate).

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