Japanese Maquiladoras: Production organization and global commodity chains

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During the last decade at least 66 Japanese maquiladoras have been established in Mexico employing in excess of 20,000 workers. This paper examines the organization of production in these plants and the insertion of these production activities in the global commodity chains of these firms. Managers at 17 firms were interviewed either in person or by telephone and 10 of the plants were visited. The results indicate that the production organization and labor-management relationships resembled that of temporary employees in Japan. Most of the activities undertaken in the maquiladoras are relatively low-skill level, labor-intensive activities. In Tijuana there are now at least 31 Japanese maquiladoras most of which are in the electronics industry and these include a number of Japanese suppliers, thereby creating a proto-industrial complex.