Firm Learning in Spatial Perspective

Led by:  Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez
Team:  Dipl.-Geogr. Claudius Schiller
Year:  2011
Funding:  Own resources
Duration:  2009 - 2011
Is Finished:  yes

In most German administrative districts, the labour market integration of poorly qualified workers is developing into an economic and political challenge. Against the background of a differentiated regional labour market development, the efforts of businesses to provide employees with the necessary qualifications are increasingly being seen as a key factor for lasting success in the integration of poorly qualified workers into the labour market. Formal qualifications provided by the school and vocational education system are becoming less able to meet the requirements demanded by many occupations, meaning that company efforts after the commencement of employment are increasingly necessary to provide vital vocational skills to employees. Keeping this in mind, the goal of the present dissertation is to investigate the significance of company education programmes for the vocational competence of workers. Taking the administrative district of Cloppenburg in Lower Saxony as an example, where the positive labour market development for poorly and averagely qualified workers in particular is widely viewed as a success story, four characteristic companies in terms of the economic and qualification structure of the district have been selected for an employee survey designed to enable the analysis on an individual employee level of internal and external factors influencing company learning processes.

For the empirical investigation, a theoretical framework will be developed which will provide important explanation modules for the regional character of learning processes using the concept of localised learning and network theory. The spatial influence of specific socio-cultural values as well as the influence of economic integration relationships of various spatial levels on internal company (learning) processes are theoretically derived through the concept of vocational competence as an independent success variable. On the basis of the primary data collected (n=343), methods of social network analysis and structural equation modelling allow for the identification of factors influencing company learning processes, the determination of their explanatory power regarding the vocational competence of workers, and the derivation of concrete economic and regional-political action recommendations for the strengthening of localised learning. With its analytical focus on the level of individual employees, the present study constitutes an important contribution to the procedural understanding of localised learning, to the lively discussion on the importance of formal and informal learning, as well as to an investigation of the supposed influence of socio-economic characteristics of a region on regional economic players.

Poster (only in German)

Presentations to Scientific Audiences:

  • Schiller, C.: Betriebliches Lernen in räumlicher Perspektive. Über die Bedeutung betrieblicher und räumlicher Netzwerke für Lernprozesse. Jahrestreffen des AK Industriegeographie, 14.-15.10.2011, Naurod-Niedernhausen.
  • Schiller, C.: Firm Learning in Spatial Perspective, Integrated rural development and the Europe 2020 Strategy, Intelligent Growth – economic issue or wider objective? Trust Conference, 16.-18.03.2011, Hannover.