The Economic Sociology Of a Globalized Industry: Multiple Networks In Australian Mining

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Malcolm ALEXANDER , School of Humanities, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia
Vikki BUNTON , Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Australia
Michael GILDING , Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Australia
Elizabeth MERLOT , Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Australia
Dean LUSHER , Swinburne Institute for Social Reserch, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia
Economic sociology investigates the detail of economic, inter-organizational and social networks in business and industry. It explores embedded patterns of activity and interaction across the economy and the impact on people and societies. Inter-organizational networks involve operational partnerships mixed with relations of finance, investment, and control. Businesses may also work together through industry associations to establish product standards or labour market regimes. Seen from below these structures are the worlds where individuals make their careers within an industry. In turn their endeavours create inter-personal networks of professional contacts and shared experience. This paper reports on a study of the Australian mining industry that investigates the complex overlap of multiple inter-organizational networks and additional linkages with inter-personal networks. There is a large amount of information available from industry handbooks and we report on methods for coding and categorizing inter-organizational relationships for the purpose of subsequent network analysis and the integration of personal network data in this framework. The dominance and centrality of global corporate players in the inter-organizational networks is mirrored in the memberships and networks of industry associations across the mining industry. Finally we report a case study of industry mobilisation against the Rudd government’s proposed Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) in May-June 2010. This case study illustrates the dominance of the global corporates in framing an ‘industry’ strategy for dealing with the government but also their success in creating a comprehensive and appealing self-identity for the industry and its workforce that glosses over the actual divisions within the industry.