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Disconnected Amid the Networks and Chains: Employee Detachment from Company and Union after Offshoring



Much has been written about the relocation of services jobs away from OECD nations by offshoring. But what happens to those who remain employed at workplaces where offshoring has been carried out? Based on survey and interview data of UK insurance and banking staff, this article explores employees' subjective understandings of the impacts of offshoring. The article brings together literature on Global Commodity Chains and Labour Process Theory, as it expands the focus of research on offshoring from macro/meso discussions of globalization and firm strategy into more micro-level analysis of employee interpretations of workplace change. The data indicate a collapse in morale and work dignity for UK financial services workers and suggest that offshoring is not associated with a rise in skill levels of surviving jobs. Many staff reported a climate of detachment and cynicism after offshoring. Detachment and disaffection applies to employees' feelings towards their employer and their union, and is discussed as a paradoxical by-product of the growing incorporation of services work into Global Commodity Chains or Global Production Networks.