Findings & Publications


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. A. (2020). Becoming Precarious? Precarious Work and Life Trajectories After Retrenchment. Critical Sociology. 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.