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As part of its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives project (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), the Interuniversity research centre on globalization and work (CRIMT) will host an international conference on multinational companies, their global value chains and emerging forms of social regulation. This conference will take place in Montreal (Canada), from June 6th to 8th 2011.

The spread of multinational companies (MNCs) through their global value chains is at the forefront of the current phase of globalization. The analysis of their development is critical for an understanding of the dynamics of labour and employment regulation. Far from evolving outside society, MNCs structure national business systems and influence public policy. Research points to how these firms control their subsidiaries and manage employment, how and why they adjust in varied ways to different societal environments, and the importance of institutional and other variations between home and host countries.

The analysis of global value chains (or global production networks) shifts the focus to the reconfiguration of the sequence of activities within and across national boundaries and across networks. The increased possibilities for firms to delocalize or relocate production activities across countries and regions in search of the optimal location often clashes with the logic and dynamics of labour relations and public policy orientations, challenging national capacities to regulate work and employment relations in MNCs. This raises questions about the motives behind the restructuring of corporate activities and functions and the impact on working conditions in different locations along the value chain.

The ways in which MNCs and their value chains cut across national and international employment regimes highlight the basic problem of institutional territoriality. In response, there is a process of institutional restructuring and hybridization where old and new collective actors and other stakeholders seek to regulate firms both within and beyond national borders. In these contested processes, actors attempt to mobilize both national and extra territorial sources of labour regulation through a variety of mechanisms of social regulation.

Organizing Committee: Karine Drolet (CRIMT), Renée-Claude Drouin (University of Montreal), Francine Jacques (CRIMT), Patrice Jalette (University of Montreal) , Christian Lévesque (HEC Montréal), Gregor Murray (University of Montreal), Nicolas Roby (CRIMT)