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Work-Life Advantage: Sustaining Regional Learning and Innovation

ISBN: 978-1-118-94483-7
248 pages
December 2017, Wiley-Blackwell
Work-Life Advantage: Sustaining Regional Learning and Innovation (1118944836) cover image


Work-Life Advantage analyses how employer-provision of ‘family-friendly’ working arrangements - designed to help workers better reconcile work, home and family - can also enhance firms’ capacities for learning and innovation, in pursuit of long-term competitive advantage and socially inclusive growth. 

  • Brings together major debates in labour geography, feminist geography, and regional learning in novel ways, through a focus on the shifting boundaries between work, home, and family
  • Addresses a major gap in the scholarly research surrounding the narrow ‘business case’ for work-life balance by developing a more socially progressive, workerist ‘dual agenda’
  • Challenges and disrupts masculinist assumptions of the “ideal worker” and the associated labour market marginalization of workers with significant home and family commitments
  • Based on 10 years of research with over 300 IT workers and 150 IT firms in the UK and Ireland, with important insights for professional workers and knowledge-intensive companies around the world
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Table of Contents

List of Figures viii

List of Tables ix

Series Editor’s Preface xi

Preface and Acknowledgements xii

List of Abbreviations xv

1 Inclusive Regional Learning? 1

2 Recentering Regional Learning: Beyond Masculinist Geographies of Regional Advantage 16

3 Work ]Life Balance and its Uncertain ‘Business Case’ 38

4 Researching Labour Geographies of Work -Life and Learning in Ireland and the UK 67

5 Juggling Work, Home and Family in the Knowledge Economy 86

6 Overcoming Work -Life Conflict and the Gendered Limits to Learning and Innovation? 117

7 Work -Life Balance, Cross -Firm Worker Mobility and Gendered Knowledge Spillovers 145

8 Conclusions: Gendered Regional Learning and Work -Life Advantage 176

References 197

Index 000

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Author Information

Al James is Reader in Economic Geography at Newcastle University, UK. His research interests include gendered labour geographies of work-life and socially inclusive growth; the regional cultural economy of learning and innovation; and the hybrid economic/development geographies of India's new service economy. His work has been funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council, Nuffield Foundation, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Isaac Newton Trust. He has published in a wide range of leading international journals, including Progress in Human Geography, Journal of Economic Geography, Regional Studies, Geoforum, Gender Work and Organization, Gender Place and Culture, Environment and Planning A and Development and Change. From 2008–2011, he was Secretary of the RGS-IBG's Economic Geography Research Group.

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‘Who thought the topic of work-life balance could be so interesting? Al James makes it riveting. His sometimes-poignant, sometimes heart-rending, sometimes outrageous (how can they get away with that?) stories of the collision of work lives and every-day lives of high-tech workers in Dublin and Cambridge make for utterly compelling reading. James’ ability to bring together seamlessly gender, work, corporate life, and the geography of the everyday is a great achievement. It exemplifies yet again the power of economic geography in understanding crucial issues of our present moment.’ 
Trevor Barnes, Professor of Geography, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada 

‘The changing nature of employment, the growing diversity of the workforce and the implications for individuals and households are the questions of our time. In this fascinating book, feminist and regional economics meet head-on as James provides insights into the implications of the growth of ‘knowledge work’ for firms and for families in Cambridge and Dublin.’
Linda McDowell, Research Professor of Geography, University of Oxford and Honorary Professor of Geography, University of Exeter, UK

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