Working with your hands : essays on craft occupations in India
Essays on craft occupations in India
Sloan School of Management.
Paul Osterman and Ezra Zuckerman.
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Essay 1 : Professionalization And Market Closure: The Case Of Plumbing In India. Professionalization has long been understood as a process of establishing market closure and monopoly control over work; however, in this article I present a case in which professionalization erodes rather than establishes occupational closure. I demonstrate how the Indian Plumbing Association (IPA), a newly formed organization of internationally trained plumbing contractors and consultants, has used the rhetoric and structures of professionalization to threaten pre-existing ethnicity-based closure enjoyed by traditional plumbers from the eastern state of Orissa. By employing a discourse of professionalism and by instituting codes, training, and certification programs, professionalization in this case has undermined Orissan plumbers by changing the basis of plumbing knowledge and opening entry to outsiders. I conclude by suggesting that professionalization is a modern trope that does not necessarily imply monopoly benefits and higher job quality for all members of an occupational group. Essay 2 : The Price is Right? Ethnographic and Field-Experimental Evidence of Price-Setting from the Sale of Handicraft Products in Southern India. Scholars of economic sociology have shown that sellers often vary prices among different buyers for short-term monetary gains or long-term relational gains, but they have failed to consider how sellers' relationship with their products can affect their price-setting behavior even in the absence of such gains. This paper, by studying how artisans and traders in a wood and lacquerware cluster in India vary prices across buyers, demonstrates the importance of product attachment in understanding price discrimination. Drawing on a field audit study where trained buyers purchase identical products from artisans and traders, the paper documents that artisans of their products beyond the point of sale, even if these buyers are wealthy, in contrast to traders who price in accordance with buyers' willingness-to-pay. These findings are consistent with ethnographic evidence documenting artisans' and traders' varying attachment to their products as indicated by their investment in the products, meaning ascribed to the products and internal standards for the products. By introducing the idea of product attachment, this paper contributes to our understanding of price-setting and economic decision-making more broadly, while also offering a unique methodological model that combines experimental and ethnographic research. Essay 3 : Export-Oriented Industrialization and Technological Frames of Government Officials, Workers and Capitalists: Evidence from a Mechanization Project in India. Export-oriented industrialization (EOI) is a common strategy for economic development in developing economies that can be achieved by increasing exports in large manufacturing sectors or smaller-scale, cluster-based industries. A key component of the EOI strategy, whether in the context of large- or small-scale production, is technological upgrading of manufacturing practices to facilitate exports and boost worker earnings. While the literature has recognized the salience of technological upgrading, it has focused predominantly on successful cases, thus overlooking problems in the implementation and adoption of such technology that could impede exports. In this paper, I draw on an ineffective export-driven mechanization initiative in a handicraft cluster in southern India to illustrate how key stakeholders might adopt incompatible "technological frames" in making sense of new technology, thus hindering the expansion of exports. I describe how government officials in this case viewed the technology brought into the sector through the frame of "status," workers perceived the technology using a "creative control" frame, whereas capitalists saw the same technology as being a source of "profits." These mismatched frames led to discordant actions by the stakeholders, resulting in limited adoption of the technology, weak exports and little improvements in worker earnings. By highlighting a key condition under which export-driven technology projects might fail, namely when key stakeholders' technological frames are misaligned, this paper draws important implications for the many developing economies using EOI as their primary industrialization strategy.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2014.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 177-185).
DepartmentSloan School of Management.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management.