Work-life 'balance' and gendered (im)mobilities of knowledge and learning in high-tech regional economies

  • James A
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Abstract

Over the past three decades, economic geographers have explored how the spatial co-location of firms in regional industrial agglomerations helps foster learning, innovation and economic competitiveness. While recent work highlights the crucial role of labour mobility in promoting inter-firm ‘knowledge spillovers’, it pays little attention to how gendered responsibilities of care and personal-life interests beyond the workplace shape workers’ (non)participation in the relational networks and communities of practice widely theorized as enabling learning and innovation. This article presents new data from two regional economies: Dublin, Ireland, and Cambridge, UK. It documents the role of ‘work–life balance’ provision across IT employers in shaping the cross-firm mobility of workers and the tacit knowledge, skills and competencies which they embody. The article disrupts the powerful premise that ‘cross-firm labour mobility is always and everywhere good’ which informs much of the regional learning literature. It also contributes to emerging debates around ‘holistic’ regional development.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Gender
  • Innovation
  • Learning
  • Regional economies
  • Work-life balance
  • Worker mobility

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Authors

  • Al James

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