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Working in large food retailers in France and the USA: the key role of institutions


  • Philippe Askenazy

    (Paris School of Economics-CNRS, France and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Germany)

  • Jean-Baptiste Berry

    (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), France)

  • Françoise Carré

    (University of Massachusetts Boston, USA)

  • Sophie Prunier-Poulmaire

    (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France)

  • Chris Tilly

    (University of California Los Angeles, USA)


Despite numerous similarities between the food retail sectors of France and the USA, there are significant contrasts in the jobs, and in particular the modal job, cashier. Notably, there are differences in pay, productivity and physical working position. Using the concept of ‘national-sectoral models’ of employment practices, this research draws on in-depth, interview-based case studies of food retailers in France and the USA, as well as standard data sources, to probe the reasons for these differences. Cross-national differences in wage-setting institutions, along with other institutional differences linked to family roles and disparate shopping cultures in the two countries, are key causes. These differences play out in interaction with distinct labour supply patterns, themselves based in part on differing institutions regarding reproduction of the labour force.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Askenazy & Jean-Baptiste Berry & Françoise Carré & Sophie Prunier-Poulmaire & Chris Tilly, 2012. "Working in large food retailers in France and the USA: the key role of institutions," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 26(4), pages 588-605, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:woemps:v:26:y:2012:i:4:p:588-605

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    Cited by:

    1. Santanu Sarkar & Andy Charlwood, 2014. "Do cultural differences explain differences in attitudes towards unions? Culture and attitudes towards unions among call centre workers in Britain and India," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 56-76, January.


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