Workshop leader: Professor Paul Edwards
The workshop is designed to kick-start an ambitious research project, focussing on what is known as globalization from the bottom, that is, the movement of people from poor regions of the world to global cities together with the kinds of enterprises that they create. This project will not reproduce what is known about the process of migration itself. Nor will it address labour market experience in general. It will look at the active role of migrants in creating new enterprises, together with the jobs that the enterprises generate. What do these enterprises really do, what is it like working in them, and what do they mean for their local economies in terms of the kinds of jobs that they create and their prospects for future growth? What might be the business opportunities that they have not considered, and would changing the ways in which they recruit and organize their workers generate a more committed and productive work force?
The ultimate aim is to develop a three-way set of comparisons. Firstly, how similar are ‘global cities’ to each other? Secondly, can they be distinguished from other large cities in their countries; that is, is the global city distinctive and if so in what respects? Thirdly, how do they compare with large, indeed often much larger, cities in other countries that do not qualify as global? The workshop will define ways of pursuing this agenda and of applying it to migrant businesses. It will also refine research methods and identify sets of cities for comparative analysis.
The workshop will bring together a team of scholars with the aim of forming a core of a team to pursue new research. The idea is to have experts on specific cities who will address the project themes using an agreed template, with the results being brought together in a series of comparative studies. There is an established model for such activity, for example studies of low-wage work funded by the Russell Sage Foundation. If the workshop inspires a team, there is the potential for a major international collaborative project, funded by such a body. At minimum, the workshop will bring together scholars from some different research traditions and promote dialogue. Between these extremes, it has the possibility of exposing researchers to new research methods and developing specific lines of collaboration between Birmingham scholars and international partners. Attendees will also learn about best practice in respect of minority enterprise support, which is a core competence and key objective of the proposers’ research and knowledge exchange activities.