Beyond the region: the learning region

Badenhorst, A 2009, Beyond the region: the learning region, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Beyond the region: the learning region
Author(s) Badenhorst, A
Year 2009
Abstract In a global economy and a world of increasing polarisation and unsustainable development, learning is critical to change. With most of the world's population in cities and the region increasingly the focus of measures to improve prospects, the learning region concept integrates the conflicting, diverse and complex issues of development. This thesis examines learning in networks and further develops the theory of the learning region through a case study in Melbourne, Australia.

It begins with a case study of an industry network which was part of a research project - City Regions, Intelligent Territories, Innovation Competitiveness and Learning (CRITICAL). The CRITICAL research project examined learning processes in five cities and developed theory and tools to support learning regions. In this thesis the study of the industry network became the first step in a case study of the northern metropolitan regional economic development project. The study of the region demonstrated that there existed a strategic regional approach supporting local learning and action developed through projects based on local research and collaboration. The theories of 'communities of practice and 'architectures of learning' (Wenger 1998) provided the conceptual framework for the case study and proved to be a novel way to discern how learning was supported. A key finding in this thesis was how learning in networks was supported and that this led to organisational change, innovation and learning across differ ent sectors and organisations. Data was analysed using a typology of the learning region developed in the CRITICAL project and the region was found to have characteristics of a learning region although without wider connectivity across the city could only be considered a sub region.

The study contributes to the body of work which demonstrates that the university can play a significant role in supporting the learning region and local engagement of key organisations, enterprises and government, and in the understanding of policy and programs to develop learning regions. The findings also contribute to innovation theory particularly with regard to networks and small to medium enterprises in manufacturing. Findings support the development of frameworks for urban regional development with the partnering of different levels of government to create new ways of operating and learning in the emerging mode of local governance partnerships and highlight the need to develop ways of measuring and understanding success or failure which capture the social, economic, cultural and environmental priorities of society.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global Studies, Social Science and Planning
Keyword(s) Community and college -- Case studies
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Created: Mon, 29 Nov 2010, 16:09:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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