Pathways to Enforcement: Labor Inspectors Leveraging Linkages with Society in Argentina
Regulations essential for improving labor standards are often ignored to the detriment of workers. In many countries, the agencies charged with enforcement lack resources and are subject to political interference. How can inspectors in flawed bureaucracies overcome these barriers and enforce labor regulations? In this article, based on case studies of subnational variation in Argentina, the author develops a theory to explain enforcement in places with weak and politicized labor inspectorates. The framework focuses on two factors: the strength of linkages between bureaucrats and allied civil society organizations, and the level of administrative resources in the bureaucracy. Linkages facilitate routinized resource sharing and the construction of pro-enforcement coalitions, and administrative resources determine whether bureaucrats use societal resources passively or strategically. By identifying pathways to enforcement that are obscured by dominant approaches to studying labor inspection, this research opens up new possibilities for crafting strategies to improve labor standards.