′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
Work–Life Advantage explores the labour geographies of regional learning and innovation in the Knowledge Economy. Its original analysis documents the everyday struggles of high tech professionals to combine competing activities of work, home and family. Crucially, it demonstrates how employer–provision of ′family friendly′ working arrangements cannot only yield improvements in the lives of knowledge workers and their families, but also enhance firms′ capacities for learning and innovation, and long–term competitive advantage. The book is based on 10 years of research carried out with over 300 IT professionals and 150 IT firms in the UK and Ireland.
The analysis developed in this book challenges problematic, masculinist assumptions of the ′ideal worker′ and stubborn workplace exclusions of workers with significant home and family commitments. It also exposes the masculinist myopia of the regional learning and innovation agenda and attendant theories of regional advantage. Bringing together major debates in labour geography, feminist geography and regional learning, this is an essential addition to academic and policy research on work–life integration and socially inclusive growth.
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
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.