Personal development in the Mexican maquila industry: The case of Las Americas Industrial Park

Peter Langkjær Nielsen & Steen Ole Peitersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master‟s thesis explores personal development in the Mexican maquila industry. The term personal development is based on the notion of development as freedom and the capability approach presented by Amartya Sen in 1999. Sen sees development as an expansion of the capabilities of an individual, and this notion of development is applied to the maquila industry. Over the years the maquila industry has been under scrutiny from scholars, who have demonstrated both poor work conditions for the people working in the maquila industry as well as newer generations of maquilas with improved work conditions. Thus, this thesis explores how the personal development of the people working in the maquila industry is affected by their work. Using a mixed method approach the thesis conducts a single case study of a maquila called Las Americas Industrial Park, located in Torreón in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. Las Americas Industrial Park is one of six maquilas located in and around Torreón administered by an organization with the name of Fomento Económco Laguna de Coahuila, A. C. The location of the maquila differentiates the case study from the majority of other research within this field, which tends to focus on the area along the US-Mexican border. The case study explores the personal development of the workers in Las Americas Industrial Park. It does so by conducting a survey that is combined with qualitative interviews. The analysis is structured around four factors that we identified as instrumental for personal development in a maquila: Influence, Occupational health & Safety, Training and courses, and Salary. Based on the analysis there are three findings that stand out in relation to the criteria for the exploring personal development at Las Americas. Firstly, gender discrimination affects women‟s personal development negatively. Secondly, work time, decent salaries, and bonuses and benefits affect personal development positively. Thirdly, access to training and courses affects personal development positively. Overall, we can conclude that the employees at Las Americas Industrial Park seemed to meet ends and further their personal development.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages175