The World Is My Workplace? The meaning of locality and distance for Finnish professionals in Silicon Valley

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dc.contributor.author KIRIAKOS, Carol Marie
dc.date.accessioned 2010-10-18T14:16:01Z
dc.date.available 2010-10-18T14:16:01Z
dc.date.issued 2010
dc.identifier.citation Florence, European University Institute, 2010
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1814/14712
dc.description Defense Date: 01/09/2010
dc.description Examining Board: Prof. Laszlo Bruszt, EUI (Supervisor) Prof. AnnaLee Saxenian University of California, Berkeley (External Supervisor) Prof. Colin Crouch, University of Warwick Business School Prof. Adrian Favell, Aarhus University en
dc.description.abstract The study explores the meaning of locality and distance in the global world. Prominent social theorizations have declared locality and distance dead in the global era, which is characterized by the widespread use of virtual communication. Yet diverse empirical studies on transnational skilled mobility, global brain circulation, and innovation and knowledge transfer show that locality and distance still matter. I argue that grand theorizations would benefit from empirically grounded research, while empirical studies would gain from explicit, systematic studies on the issue of the presumed demise of distance and locality. The present study aims towards filling this gap with an empirically grounded approach close to real-life meanings and experiences. The empirical questions focus on two issues: 1) personal motivations and identities in relation to place and 2) everyday work and knowledge sharing both locally and at distance. The approach is qualitative and inductive with ethnographic features; the main data are in-depth interviews with Finnish professionals in Silicon Valley. Highly skilled Finns in Silicon Valley represent a case of West-West mobility; from one successful Western location to another. Skilled professionals are an interesting case for the investigation of the meaning of locality and distance, because according to many authors more privileged people in particular are presumed to be detached from localities and free from the realities and constraints of distance. The findings show that locality and distance are still very much alive from both personal and work perspectives. Firstly, the relationship between personal motivations/identities and place is a two-way one: locations can be seen as targets or ways to fulfill personal or professional dreams, achieve goals, or challenge and develop as a person. Changing locations also evokes new identities, such as the pioneer or the mediator, which are counterintuitive considering the presumed death of distance. Secondly, the dynamics of locality and distance are present in everyday work, which is structured across several time zones, not only the local one. Virtual communication has therefore changed the organization of work locally, but has not erased distance or rendered locality less significant. In contrast, the awareness of distance is emphasized in virtual communication. Physical distance and differences of context (time of day, weather, cultural environment) can pose challenges in reaching mutual understandings or making joint decisions. Furthermore, being present in a locality and experiencing face-to-face interaction becomes even more meaningful in the form of chance encounters, taking collaboration to the next level, accessing certain types of information and knowledge, and inspiration (the experience of "being at the center of things"). Furthermore, the findings indicate that certain kinds of information and tacit knowledge do not travel well across distance and that local presence is needed to access these. The meaning of locality for these professionals can be summarized as three I?s: Information, Interaction and Inspiration. Finally, I will consider the idea of the death of locality and distance and what has actually changed and what has not when it comes to their current meanings, on a more interpretive level. en
dc.language.iso en
dc.relation.ispartofseries EUI PhD theses en
dc.relation.ispartofseries Department of Political and Social Sciences en
dc.subject.lcsh Geographical perception -- Finland
dc.subject.lcsh Labor mobility -- Finland -- 21st century
dc.subject.lcsh Labor mobility -- Social aspects
dc.subject.lcsh Human geography -- Finland -- 21st century
dc.title The World Is My Workplace? The meaning of locality and distance for Finnish professionals in Silicon Valley en
dc.type Thesis en
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