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Understanding labour exploitation in the Spanish agricultural sector using an agent based approach

Chesney, Thomas; Evans, Keith; Gold, Stefan; Trautrims, Alexander


Professor of Computational Social Science

Keith Evans

Stefan Gold


Using an agent-based model we explore the model of slavery in modern business developed by Crane (2013). Taking the Spanish agricultural sector—specifically the area of Campo de Dalías in Almería where much of Europe's vegetables are grown—as a case, we find that labour exploitation flourishes in communities of like-minded companies that do not care about mainstream norms. We confirm which socio-economic aspects of labour demand/supply lead to slavery, while challenging the assumption that markets which are dominated by few employers are more prone to exploiting workers. We find that, regarding isolation and connectedness of employers, cluster effects and intense inter-employer communication are particularly effective drivers of underpayment if the cluster is homogenous in terms of wage level and if it is isolated from law-abiding employers. This means that employers tend to confirm and reinforce each other in their illegal behaviour, thus creating enclaves in which non-standard norms prevail and worker exploitation is regarded as legitimate. On the other hand, we see that breaking the isolation of employees among each other only increases pay levels if there are law-abiding employers, pointing to the potentially beneficial role social business and entrepreneurs, state-owned companies, or public entrepreneurs could play for transforming labour conditions of entire markets.


Chesney, T., Evans, K., Gold, S., & Trautrims, A. (2019). Understanding labour exploitation in the Spanish agricultural sector using an agent based approach. Journal of Cleaner Production, 214, 696-704.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 27, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 29, 2018
Publication Date Mar 20, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 8, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 30, 2019
Journal Journal of Cleaner Production
Print ISSN 0959-6526
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 214
Pages 696-704
Keywords Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment; Strategy and Management; Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering; General Environmental Science
Public URL
Publisher URL


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