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Efforts supporting domestic revenue mobilisation in developing countries are often designed and evaluated based on empirical indicators, such as ratios of revenue to gross domestic product, which capture differences in achieved outcomes across countries. This article studies a complementary approach that also takes into account differences in countries’ fundamental economic structures associated with different capacities to raise revenue, which are not captured by simple ratios of revenue to gross domestic product. Non-parametric data envelopment analysis is applied to estimate domestic revenue potential in a panel of 118 low- and middle-income countries from 2008 to 2019. This approach provides a data-driven measure of how efficient each country is in raising domestic revenue given its national economic conditions. The results indicate that countries’ relative efficiencies do not exhibit the same strongly positive correlation with income levels as typically observed for ratios of revenue to gross domestic product. Instead, countries with low efficiency are spread across all income groups and geographical regions. This suggests that looking solely at ratios of revenue to gross domestic product might be misleading for drawing policy and normative conclusions about how much more revenue a country should aim to raise. Finally, panel regression analysis is used to investigate the extent to which international support is targeted at countries with larger untapped revenue potential.

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Macroeconomic theories picture the economy as a phenomenon tractable by their analysis and thus manageable by macroeconomic policies guided by this analysis. This approach has withstood recurrent policy failures, competing theories and several changes of policy paradigms, from Keynesianism to monetarism, because the development of economics as a discipline has been entangled with the demand from policymakers to receive clear macroeconomic policy prescriptions from the expert community. The idea that policymakers can steer the economy in a desired direction relies upon the development of theories with prescriptive and predictive claims, which, in turn, rely on a great deal of analytic reductionism. As a result, reductionist theories continue to offer misrepresentations of the macro phenomenon, particularly by overlooking how policy interventions generate diverse and intractable micro-adaptations that develop into undesired, unforeseen and unintended system-level consequences. This trend continues to cause trouble: reductionist macroeconomic theories foster overconfident interventionist policies that contribute to macroeconomic instability.

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We present an analytical literature review on optimal sin taxes. After identifying the distinctive features of sin goods, we develop a simple, encompassing model of the taxation of sin goods that allows for treating the main models found in the literature as subcases. We derive the optimal sin tax rates, while also considering the subsidisation of healthy goods. We then discuss the Pareto-improvement result obtained in the theoretical literature, confronting it with the debate on the regressivity of this kind of taxation. We highlight the crucial role of the interaction of tastes, self-control problems and poverty when deriving policy conclusions from theoretical models.

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This article is concerned with the way economists conceptualise the relationship between state and market within their theories of public finance. It is customary for them to treat polity and economy as comprising separate domains of human activity. In contrast, the recently developing notion of entangled political economy treats the state–market dichotomy as an abstraction, whereas political and economic organisations are deeply entangled with one another. While property and its distinction between mine and thine is a universal quality of the human species, specific and particular rights of property are always contestable through entanglement among political and commercial entities. Entanglement calls attention to the processes through which rights of action are established and challenged within an entangled system of political economy. What results from our exploration of entanglement and public finance is recognition of the high analytical potential of reviving Antonio de Viti’s initial interest in transforming the focus of public finance from the practice of public finance into a scientific theory, thereby joining public finance and public choice to form political economy.

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The concept of employee resilience continues to receive burgeoning academic attention within the fields of organisational psychology and human resource management, while practitioner interest has intensified since the pandemic. So far, however, resilience remains underexamined from a labour process perspective. Taking a labour process theory lens, this article explores the potential silencing effect of resilience in the workplace. We argue that the universalist narrative of resilience, one which embodies neoliberalism and individualism, has implications for how work is governed and for worker resistance. We conclude with a discussion of the need to counter such forms of hegemonic control arising from the contemporary rhetoric of resilience.

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Authors: Abigail Marks and Esme Terry

Based on data from over 70 interviews with people working in the home credit industry, this article makes a unique contribution to knowledge about work in sub-prime financial services. The article demonstrates how extant positions constructing home credit agents as ‘dirty workers’ are to some extent misleading, omitting analysis of the place(s) in which such work is enacted. Home credit has been established in disadvantaged, stigmatised communities for decades and is central to the history and geography of many working-class territories. Drawing on theory surrounding place and territorial stigma, this article considers the complicated relationship between the conflicting feelings of taint and value held by home credit workers, thus contributing to a more nuanced and contextually aware understanding of ‘dirty work’. Moreover, by exploring the value of home credit agents to their borrowers, it is possible to gain insights as to how to better structure financial support in low-income communities.

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Liminality, as originally conceived by anthropologists, is a temporary ‘in-between’ state that acts as a bridge, connecting old roles to new roles, and resulting in a desired new state. The article applies this concept to precarious migrant work. We argue, specifically, that migrants in low-wage and insecure work occupy four main liminal realms following their cross-border mobility: the temporal, the financial, the social and the legal. We explore these four realms using qualitative interview evidence (36 interviews) from comparative research with migrant workers, migrant employers and community stakeholders in Norway and the UK. The article then reflects on the balance between liminality (as a positive, temporary and in-between state) and limbo (as a negative, long-term state). We argue that migrants doing precarious work avoid limbo, but at the same time do not experience liminality as originally conceived. Instead, they experience what we term ‘ambiguous liminality’: where precarious work is encountered as liminal, but where the exact mechanisms and pathways leading to a desired new state are multiple, uncertain and incremental. Liminality, however ambiguous, is a vital expression of migrant agency; but it also serves the interests of capital too: masking the negatives associated with precarious work and helping to underpin precarious migrants’ work ethic.

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Author: Matt Vidal

This article presents a theory of routine politics of production, which was inductively developed based on a case study of 22 supplier factories in the USA, including in-depth interviews with 31 managers and 52 workers. All factories had implemented lean production. The findings show that (i) some managers prioritise the qualitative upgrading of organisational capabilities over quantitative work intensification, (ii) this includes objective forms of worker empowerment, and (iii) many workers resist or are hesitant about these forms of empowerment (while being committed to their work). The majority of workers from this convenience sample described either no work intensification under lean or ‘positive intensification’, which by their own assessment reduces monotony and/or makes the work more challenging. The first necessary condition for routine politics of production to obtain is that managers prioritise qualitative upgrading over quantitative effort levels. The second necessary condition is worker reticence or resistance toward managerial attempts to change routines.

The article eschews theories of control and consent in favour of a classical Marxist framework emphasising labour process contradictions. Managers face conflicting pressures between deskilling and upskilling labour. Workers develop a contradictory orientation of alienated commitment. They are committed to being productive workers, in an attempt to realise a purpose in response to their alienation. Yet, in another manifestation of their alienation, experiences of bad management result in scepticism toward management. They embrace their work and Fordist conceptions of efficiency, wanting to see their organisation succeed, yet they contest managerial attempts to upgrade routines, which they deem inefficient.

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The purpose of this article is to extend knowledge and understanding of work in the platform economy by focusing on the phenomenon of (video)blogging on and around social media platforms. The growth of the platform economy has attracted considerable attention in recent years. As yet, however, research has focused almost exclusively on labour platforms that operate to match the supply of and demand for paid work in fields such as food delivery, ride hailing, cleaning or data entry activities. Surprisingly little is known about work and its manifestations on other platforms, despite the fact that the platform economy embraces a huge variety of arrangements for income generation. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 18 German (video)bloggers we show that (video)blogging constitutes a specific form of ‘digital self-employment’ that combines features of traditional self-employment with digitally mediated dependencies. While (video)bloggers enjoy both a great deal of independence from managerial control and a high degree of autonomy, they are also subject to the rules and algorithms set by large tech companies. The example of (video)blogging, together with the experiences of (video)bloggers, highlights the extent to which the platform economy has created new types of work that need to be taken into consideration to enable a deeper understanding of the evolving dynamics of the platform economy and how these are transforming the nature of work.

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Author: Vera Weghmann

This Theory into Practice piece uses theoretical underpinnings of Ness as well as Cleaver and Sivanandan to explore the role of two independent trade unions that emerged in the UK in the mid 2010s, namely the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) in 2012 and the United Voices of the World (UVW) in 2014. Despite being of relatively small size (each has a membership of under 10,000) and with few financial resources, they have been praised for their ground-breaking and ‘significant high-profile wins’ in ‘David and Goliath’ battles. In this article I discuss why low paid, largely migrant workers have organised within these independent unions; and the extent to which they have applied syndicalist tactics and strategies. The analysis is rooted in my practice, as someone who was involved in the IWGB from the start and then co-founded the UVW in 2014.

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