Understanding Labour Turnover in a Labour Intensive Industry: Evidence from the British Clothing Industry

Ian M. Taplin, Jonathan Winterton, Ruth Winterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The clothing industry is both a quintessential global industry and one that is inescapably labour intensive. Despite more and more production shifting to low wage economies in the past decades, there remains a significant amount of clothing manufacturing in high wage economies. This study examines the drivers of change that are forcing restructuring in one such country and the outcomes of such changes for the organization of production. Because the changes have involved treating workers as a resource to be developed rather than a cost, preventing labour turnover has become a crucial component of this strategic repositioning. In presenting the results of a national survey of UK clothing manufacturers we find that high labour turnover rates persist. We discuss the historical background to this phenomenon and current trends, and then explore the principal variables that might explain these trends. We conclude with a discussion of the outcomes facing firms in this industry and comment on why managers resist comprehensive changes in organizational routines and the effort bargain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1046
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


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