Findings & Publications
Wave 1 Report from the Longitudinal Survey of Retrenched Workers
This report has been developed for partner organisations and key stakeholders of the University of South Australia Future Work, Future Communities project. It has two parts. The first documents key government and industry responses, policies and schemes leading up to the end of car manufacturing in Australia. The second part presents data from Wave 1 of the project’s Longitudinal Workers Survey on the circumstances, household compositions, work histories and self-reported health status of workers affected by the closures. These data relate to workers’ circumstances in May-July 2020, about three years after the closures. It includes information about former employers from both the lead firms (Ford, GM Holden and Toyota) and supply chain firms. The Australian Research Council (ARC) has supported this project financially through its Linkage program (LP170100940) as have our South Australian and Federal Government partners.
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Irving, J., Dinmore, H., Beer, A., Weller, S., Barnes, T., Ratcliffe, J, Onur, I. and Vij, A. (2020) Wave 1 Report from the Longitudinal Survey of Retrenched Workers, UniSA Business, The University of South Australia. ISBN: 978-0-9953829-7-8
Agency and the structural determinants of regional growth: towards a retheorisation
This paper addresses debates on the role of agency in shaping the economic future of regions. Scholarship on agency departs from the earlier focus of evolutionary economic geography, which highlighted the role of pre-existing structural conditions. This paper challenges the notion that agency is only found in intentional action and is limited to key actors within a region. It questions exclusive focus on the impact of entrepreneurial leaders, place leaders and government, and identifies agency in the accumulated micro-decisions of multiple decision-makers, using the example of workers affected by the closure of Australia’s passenger vehicle industry. In so doing, it underscores the twin roles of collective vision and meaningful implementation in the successful transformation of regions.
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KEYWORDS: agency; Australia; economic transformation; regional pathways; plant closure; policy intervention
Helen Dinmore, Andrew Beer, Jacob Irving & Markku Sotarauta (2023) Agency and the structural determinants of regional growth: towards a retheorisation, Regional Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2023.2259944
Left-behind neighbourhoods in old industrial regions
This article focuses on the neighbourhoods and people that have been left behind in the economic transformation of two now-diversified old industrial regions: Geelong (Victoria) in Australia and Oshawa (Ontario) in Canada. Political discontent has found expression in different ways in the two locations. This, we contend, reflects policy frameworks that dampen the extent to which socio-spatial inequality and entrenched disadvantage generate discontent within regions. In assessing the factors producing this outcome, this article clarifies both the who, what and where of ‘left behindness’ and related regional policy responses.
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KEYWORDS: left-behind places; inequality; old industrial regions; discontent
John Tierney, Sally Weller, Tom Barnes & Andrew Beer (2023) Left-behind neighbourhoods in old industrial regions, Regional Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2023.2234942
Leading Change in Communities Experiencing Economic Transition: Place Leadership, Expectations, and Industry Closure
This paper considers the nature, origins and expression of place leadership in communities undergoing large-scale economic transformation. It examines where people look for leadership in the management of the places where they live, and how their perspectives are affected by an adverse event. It documents community attitudes on the influence those who occupy positions of authority have been able to exert on this transition, drawing on perceptions from places affected by the shutdown of the Australian automotive industry in the second decade of the twenty-first century. It seeks to understand which individuals and roles were seen to be influential in leading this process of change. This article gains insights into how leaders have an impact, and where this ability to effect change comes from. It does so with reference to the structural conditions embedded within Australian political life and the way leadership finds expression in periods of uncertainty and transformation. The paper finds communities are acutely aware of where the power to lead change resides, but concerns with the efficacy of that leadership have contributed to discontent. A greater focus on further empowering local leadership while delivering on long term expectations would have resulted in more positive perceptions.
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KEYWORDS: place leadership; economic restructuring; followership; structural adjustment; automotive industry
Andrew Beer, Markku Sotarauta & David Bailey (2023) Leading Change in Communities Experiencing Economic Transition: Place Leadership, Expectations, and Industry Closure, Journal of Change Management: Reframing Leadership and Organizational Practice, DOI: 10.1080/14697017.2023.2164936
Regional assets and value capture trajectories: the growth and demise of an Australian automotive supplier
This article examines the relationship between regional assets and value capture with a focus on knowledge and intellectual property assets. It traces, over an extended time horizon, the upgrading and later downgrading path of a single supplier firm in a peripheral location to illuminate the degree to which value capture trajectories are shaped by the power geometries of regional, network, and macroeconomic forces. The analysis suggests that functional upgrading does not insulate firms from the risk of downgrading and exclusion, but rather that it changes the nature of their vulnerabilities. In this case, functional upgrading was associated with ownership changes, a progressive disassociation of intellectual property assets from their underlying regional knowledge resources, the relocation of production activities to hubs in global networks, and eventually to the redirection of captured value from the region. The analysis contends that regional assets are assets that capture value in the region, and that when knowledge-based regional assets are created by interactions within firms, firms should be considered as regional assets. The conclusion considers the implications for regional development.
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KEYWORDS: regional assets; value capture trajectories; intellectual property; upgrading
Sally Weller & Al Rainnie (2022) Regional assets and value capture trajectories: the growth and demise of an Australian automotive supplier, Review of International Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2022.2127119
Career degradation in Australian cities: globalization, precarity and adversity
This paper explores the impact on urban labour markets of the closure of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry through a qualitative analysis of ex-automotive workers’ experiences of redundancy and precarious work. We locate the experiences of workers inside a multidimensional concept of precarity that can be both objectively measured and subjectively produced. These findings show the need for strong policies directed at boosting the economies of affected urban communities alongside labour market programmes able to provide secure work after large-scale plant closures. Through the voices of affected workers, we demonstrate the complex ways their lives have been affected.
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KEYWORDS: urban labour markets; economic change; unemployment; precarious work; outer urban
Helen Dinmore & Andrew Beer (2022) Career degradation in Australian cities: globalization, precarity and adversity, Regional Studies, Regional Science, 9:1, 371-385, DOI: 10.1080/21681376.2022.2078737
Plant closures in Australia’s automotive industry: continuity and change
This paper explores the possibility of using diachronic case study comparisons to shed light on continuity and change in policy interventions to manage plant closures. It compares the early results of a survey of workers retrenched in the 2017 closure of Australia’s passenger vehicle manufacturing industry with the results of a similar survey of workers who lost their jobs in the 2005 closure of Mitsubishi’s Adelaide engine-casting and components plant. Despite the 12 years of accumulated expertise in plant closure and structural adjustment management, this comparison shows remarkable similarities in the profile of the cohort of retrenched workers and remarkable similarities in their employment outcomes. The discussion reflects on conditions that produce continuity and change.
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KEYWORDS: plant closure; redundancy; automotive industry; policy intervention; Australia
Jacob Irving, Andrew Beer, Sally Weller & Tom Barnes (2022) Plant closures in Australia’s automotive industry: continuity and change, Regional Studies, Regional Science, 9:1, 5-22, DOI: 10.1080/21681376.2021.2016071
Place-based industrial strategy and economic trajectory: advancing agency-based approaches
Agency-based approaches represent a fundamental advance in how researchers and policymakers can address questions of place-based industrial strategy, including issues of governance, leadership, new technology and regional assets. However, these approaches can be advanced further by recognizing the centrality of discourse in regional change. This paper does this by synthesizing two conceptual frameworks: Grillitsch and Sotarauta’s trinity of change agency and Moulaert et al.’s framework of Agency Structure Institutions Discourse (ASID). Deploying two Australian case studies to shed light on drivers of change at the local scale, this paper demonstrates that discourse is a necessary component of transformative regional processes. Furthermore, it contends that successful transformation is presupposed by the extent to which local discourse overlaps with local opportunity spaces and forms of agency. Successful place-based industrial strategies need to mobilize these multiple elements of regional change in order to maximize their potential for success.
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KEYWORDS: agency; place-based leadership; economic transformation; regional pathways; Australia; industrial strategy
Andrew Beer, Tom Barnes & Sandy Horne (2021): Place-based industrial strategy and economic trajectory: advancing agency-based approaches, Regional Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2021.1947485
The urban and regional impacts of plant closures: new methods and perspectives
Work on large-scale plant closures has provided a rich vein of scholarship and academic debate. This paper articulates a new set of methods and concepts for understanding how large-scale redundancies associated with the closure of manufacturing plants affects society and the economy at the local, regional and national scales. It posits the need for a more comprehensive exercise in data collection and experimentation with previously unused methods, including the application of discrete-choice experiments in order to understand better the choice and decision-making frameworks adopted by affected workers. The paper argues there is a need to integrate community-wide policy responses into the core of the analyses.
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KEYWORDS: plant closures, mass redundancies, precariousness, structural adjustment programmes, place leadership
Andrew Beer, Sally Weller, Tom Barnes, Ilke Onur, Julie Ratcliffe, David Bailey & Markku Sotarauta (2019) The urban and regional impacts of plant closures: new methods and perspectives, Regional Studies, Regional Science, 6:1, 380-394, DOI: 10.1080/21681376.2019.1622440
Becoming Precarious? Precarious Work and Life Trajectories After Retrenchment
Much of the large literature on precarious work has largely tended to assume that precarity is shaped by job quality: that precarious work leads to precarious lives. This paper adds to the literature by questioning this line of causality and highlighting the broader range of influences shaping the lives of older workers who enter precarious work after retrenchment from secure, long-term careers. Drawing on a study of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry, which closed in 2017, this article finds that for older retrenched workers, exposure to precarious employment sharpened life precarity for some but did not lead to precarious lives for others. Instead of a uniform transition from security to precarity, these workers’ life trajectories diverged depending on their household-scale financial security. Key issues influencing the likelihood of older workers’ lives becoming precarious were enterprise benefits and asset wealth accumulated through their previous careers.
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KEYWORDS: Sociology of work, precarity, precarisation, precarious work, precariat, retrenched workers, older workers
Barnes, T, & Weller, S 2020. ‘Becoming Precarious? Precarious Work and Life Trajectories After Retrenchment’, Critical Barnes, T., & Weller, S. A. (2020). Becoming Precarious? Precarious Work and Life Trajectories After Retrenchment. Critical Sociology, 46(4–5), 527–541. https://doi.org/10.1177/0896920519896822
Agency, structure, discourse and entrepreneurship: Understanding the transition of former auto regions
This paper sets out to better understand how regions that have experienced a major economic shock can establish a new economic future. It examines the recent writings of Grillitsch et al (2019) to better understand the drivers of agency, focusing in particular on the capacity of entrepreneurs to drive innovation leading to growth; the role of institutions as critical actors in change processes, and the part played by place leaders. This perspective is considered alongside the work of Moulert et al (2016) and the emphasis they have placed on the role of discourse. These ideas are then applied to the examination of the community impacts of the closure of Australia’s automotive sector.
KEYWORDS: automotive industry, industry closure, economic shock, innovation, place leadership
Beer, A 2019, ‘Agency, structure, discourse and entrepreneurship: Understanding the transition of former auto regions’, presented to The University of Bath: School of Management, The University of South Australia, Adelaide.
HSRIP Report – An evaluation of the impact of retrenchment at Mitsubishi focussing on affected workers, their families and communities: Implications for human services policies and practices
This report presents the findings of stage one of a longitudinal study into the health, housing and labour market impacts of job loss at Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL). The research aims to understand how the loss of employment arising from the closure of Mitsubishi at Lonsdale, a significant manufacturing plant, and voluntary redundancies at Mitsubishi at Tonsley Park, affects the well-being of workers and their families. The research examines the processes of adjustment and change – health impacts, loss of job and possible loss of income – affecting workers and their families who have been made redundant or accepted voluntary redundancy packages.
KEYWORDS: Redundancy; Retrenchment; Unemployment; Social aspects; Wellbeing
Beer, A, Baum, F, Thomas, H, Lowry, D, Cutler, C, Zhang, G, Jolley, G, Ziersch, A, Verity, F, MacDougall, C & Newman, L 2006, ‘An evaluation of the impact of retrenchment at Mitsubishi focussing on affected workers, their families and communities: implications for human services policies and practices’, Flinders University, Adelaide.
Other Publications from our Researchers
Weller, S, Barnes, T & Kimberley, N 2022, ‘Geographies of job quality’, in C Warhurst, C Mathieu & RE Dwyer (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Job Quality, Oxford University Press, UK, ch. 9, pp. 203-219.
Beer, A & Irving, J 2021, ‘Theory, methods and innovation in the study of place leadership: a review of the opportunity’, in M Sotarauta & A Beer (eds), Handbook on city and regional leadership, Edward Elgar Publishing, UK, ch. 16, pp. 281-301.
Beer, A, Sotarauta, M & Ayles, K 2021, ‘Place, city, regional, rural … leadership: a review’, in M Sotarauta & A Beer (eds), Handbook on city and regional leadership, Edward Elgar Publishing, UK, ch. 2, pp. 19-40.
Cavoli, T, Onur, I & Sourdin, P 2021, ‘Financial inclusion, active bank accounts, and poverty reduction in India’, in T Cavoli & R Shrestha (eds), Financial inclusion in Asia and beyond: measurement, development gaps, and economic consequences, Routledge, UK, ch. 9, pp. 251-269.
Dinmore, H & Beer, A 2021, ‘Narrative and leadership: lessons for policy and place leadership’, in M Sotarauta & A Beer (eds), Handbook on city and regional leadership, Edward Elgar Publishing, UK, ch. 19, pp. 343-360.
Johnson, LC, Weller, S & Barnes, T 2021, ‘(Extra) Ordinary Geelong: state-led urban regeneration and economic revival’, in JR Bryson, RV Kalafsky & V Vanchan (eds), Ordinary Cities, Extraordinary Geographies: People, Place and Space, Edward Elgar, US, ch. 5, pp. 85-107.
Sotarauta, M & Beer, A 2021, ‘Introduction to city and regional leadership’, in M Sotarauta & A Beer (eds), Handbook on city and regional leadership, Edward Elgar Publishing, UK, ch. 1, pp. 2-18.
Baker, E, Daniel, L, Beer, A, Bentley, R, Rowley, S, Baddeley, M, London, K, Stone, W, Nygaard, C, Hulse, K & Lockwood, A 2022, ‘An Australian rental housing conditions research infrastructure’, Scientific Data, vol. 9, issue 1, article no. 33, pp. 1-5.
Irving, J, Beer, A, Weller, S & Barnes, T 2022, ‘Plant closures in Australia’s automotive industry: continuity and change’, Regional Studies, Regional Science, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 5-22.
Weller, S & Beer, A 2022, ‘State structures and the limits of agency: governing the transformation from coal in Australia’, Regional Studies, online, pp. 1-13.
Beer, A, Barnes, T & Horne, S 2021, ‘Place-based industrial strategy and economic trajectory: advancing agency-based approaches’, Regional Studies, online, pp. 1-14.
Hallak, R, Lee, C & Onur, I 2021, ‘Health star ratings and beverage purchase intentions: a study of Australian and New Zealand hospitality consumers’, Foods.
Hutchinson, C, Milte, R, Stanley, M, Duff, G & Ratcliffe, J 2021, ‘Using discrete choice experiments to elicit the service preferences of people with mild intellectual disability: an exploratory study’, Health and Social Care in the Community, online, pp. 1-10.
Martin, J, Beer, A, Morris, A, Paris, C & Budge, T 2021, ‘Rural local governance and housing: Local government as facilitator’, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 4-25.
Ratcliffe, J, Khadka, J, Milte, R, Walker, R, Cleland, J, McBain, C & Hutchinson, C 2021, ‘Developing dimensions for a new preference-based quality of life instrument for older people receiving aged care services in the community’, Quality of Life Research, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 555-565.
Tang, RW & Beer, A 2021, ‘Regional innovation and the retention of foreign direct investment: a place-based approach’, Regional Studies, online, pp. 1-14.
Vij, A, Connor, JD & Beer, A 2021, ‘The negative effects of urban agglomeration on housing affordability in Australia’, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 26-46.
Weller, S & Rainnie, A 2021, ‘Not so ‘smart’? An Australian experiment in smart specialisation’, Geographical Research, online, pp. 1-14.
Weller, S 2021, ‘Places that matter: Australia’s crisis intervention framework and voter response’, Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society, online, pp. 1-16.