This paper critiques the learning-region literature on two related points. The first is that the learning-region analysis of labour markets is theoretically underdeveloped, because it underestimates the difficulty of overcoming systematic skill mismatches, underinvestment, and free-rider practices which characterize unregulated labour markets. Second and relatedly, because it does not link the problematic nature of labour-market governance to the conflicts and contradictions of state policy, the learning-region literature effectively 'depoliticizes' policymaking. The paper draws on a case study of the development of local boards for training and adjustment in Ontario, Canada, and develops an alternative framework utilizing a critical governance perspective which stresses how knowledge and learning must be seen as part of state accumulation and hegemonic strategies. Such strategies are contingent on the representation of stakeholders, in particular business, and current attempts to develop decentralized associational networks are often part of what Jessop terms metagovernance. In the case of Canada, decentralization from the federal to provincial scales is viewed as crisis and cost driven and in many ways antithetical to stakeholder governance. Thus in Ontario, the development of a stakeholder-based form of labour-market governance has been marginalized by shifts in state-accumulation strategies and the inability and disinterest of business in representing itself in such stakeholder institutions. Furthermore, the local boards' generation of knowledge based on inclusionary networks and information is at odds with a state and business emphasis on knowledge derived from exclusive networks and geared to short-term profit maximization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)