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Structural change and implicit regional development policies : the role of government office employment in British Columbia Davies, Berwyn James

Abstract

Two main themes underlie this thesis. The first is the strength of implicit direct investment regional development policies compared to the ineffectiveness of the explicit 'attractive' ones. The second is the importance of understanding the effects that national structural change will have on regional development patterns. The two come together in an analysis of the effects of the growth of office employment on the spatial development of the British Columbia economy. The evolution of a post-industrial occupational structure is shown to involve the rapid growth of office employment in general and higher echelon administrative and professional 'control' functions in particular in recent years. Growth of government and its entry into new areas of concern is similarly seen as a consequence of this development. Analysis of Census and other data reveals that offices were heavily concentrated in Vancouver and Victoria and that this concentration had increased during the 1960's. Higher echelon occupations were especially heavily concentrated. Government office employment is also heavily concentrated and there was some evidence that this too is increasing, along with the growing importance of new areas of competence. The Provincial government pattern was somewhat different from the aggregate in that its public service office functions are most highly concentrated in Victoria as opposed to Vancouver, Crown Corporations and tertiary education, however are concentrated in Vancouver. Changes in the structure of the large organisations that dominate the modern economy, involving the separation of rapidly growing control functions from the slower growing production functions are the cause of the concentration of offices in the two largest centres of British Columbia. Both this growth and this concentration are expected to continue, at least in the forseeable future. This can be expected to Increase income opportunity, employment opportunity and development opportunity disequities in the Interior, as well as causing social polarisation and 'growth pains' in Vancouver. There is deemed to be insufficient evidence to support a view that these disequities nonetheless contribute to the maximisation of overall social benefit and a spatial application of the Theory of Justice is used to support a call for remedial action. Public sector office employment, accounting for over 10% of all office employment, is seen as having a strategic role to play in changing existing development patterns and a brief analysis is made of its use in other areas of the world. The thesis concludes that more research is needed in this area, but that the direct use of government office employment as a regional development tool in British Columbia would probably be more effective than present regional development policies.

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