The Experience of a French Expat in a Mexican Factory : An Ethnographic Account of Workplace Transgressions and Multiple Realities

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Michel VILLETTE, AgroParisTech and Centre Maurice Halbwachs (ENS/EHESS/CNRS), France
  1. This ethnographic account of a managerial situation is a contribution to the new institutionalist studies of MNC based on the testimony of an expatriated French engineer in a Mexican factory. We try to make an in-depth analysis of the gap between what needed to be done in the Mexican context to make the factory profitable, and the good practices prescribed by the financial, technical, and legal services of corporate headquarters. Our analysis supports the theory of incompatible worlds (Lebenswelt) that multinational corporations often bring together. We highlight the translation-betrayals and deceptions that an expat has to accomplish, including whilst presenting the accounts, in order to avoid any obstacle caused by the incompatibilities that could jeopardise the factory's smooth operations. We emphasise the arrangements the engineer had to negotiate to avoid, for example, the well-intentioned paternalism of a powerful potentate or the "tax" payed to local police in the name of an exogenous conception of law and ethics.