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Tod Rutherford

Tod Rutherford

Contact Information:


535 Eggers Hall


  • 2024 Spring
    • GEO 756 Gramsci: Hegemony, Consent and Labor
    • GEO 171 Human Geographies
  • 2023 Fall
    • IRP 499 Honors Capstone Project
  • 2022 Fall
    • GEO 171 Human Geographies
    • GEO 420 Labor Geography
  • 2022 Spring
    • GEO 610 Qualitative Methods in Geography
    • GEO 331 The European Union

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Department of City and Regional Planning, University of Wales College of Cardiff, 1992

Areas of Expertise

Economic restructuring, labor and the automobile industry, labor market processes and policies, regional development

Research Interests

My research has concentrated in the general field of economic restructuring. This general emphasis has been investigated along two interrelated dimensions: industrial restructuring with a focus on manufacturing (in particular, the automobile industry) and regional change; and labour market change and policy. These dimensions can best be understood in relation to one another at different spatial scales—the global, national, regional and local.

The first dimension is industrial restructuring and regional change. I have focused on the role of the automobile industry in terms of its changing industrial organization in response to increasing global competition and its adoption of new technology and work organization. This has highlighted the need not only for greater inter-company co-operation and in some instances, spatial clustering, but for an increased reliance on local public and private institutions for technology transfer, training and innovation diffusion.

New forms of work organization have lead to the restructuring of labour demand, training and retraining—all of which reflect and transform local/ regional labour market conditions. I am currently completing a project on how Japanese automotive transplants have adapted their supply systems in North America. Relatedly I have strong interest in the role of labour—both unionized and non-unionized workers, as an increasingly important factor in the adoption of new work practices such as lean production. Based on this research, I have written about how labour control remains a central feature of new forms of work and also on how organized labour is playing an important role in Canada in the development of labour market and training initiatives

The second related dimension of my research is on labour markets.I have been especially interested in how new rounds of investment in localities interact with existing local training cultures (private, public sector and institutional recruitment and training practices) and I have done case studies of this relationship in South Wales and in Ontario.

I have a strong interest in labour market policy and am currently completing a three year project comparing the decentralization of labour market policy in the UK and Canada which addresses the debate on institutions, governance and scale in economic geography. I am also beginning a project on whether increased free trade under NAFTA is leading to convergence in labour market policies and governance in Canada and the United States.

Research Grant Awards and Projects

"Graduate Research Fellowship Program - Aslamy", Sponsored by National Science Foundation.

"Graduate Research Fellowship Program 2021 to 2026", Sponsored by National Science Foundation.

"Graduate Research Fellowship Program - Aslamy", Sponsored by National Science Foundation.

"Graduate Research Fellowship Program", Sponsored by National Science Foundation.

"The Adoption of High Performance Work Systems (HPWS) in Unionized and Non-unionized Automotive Assembly Plants in Canada", Sponsored by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

"Employee Workplace Participation and Industry 4.0 Technological Adoption: A comparative study of the influence of Workplace Participation Forums on Employee Quality of Working Life",

Selected Publications

  • Journal Articles
  • Book Chapters
    • Rutherford, T., ""Negotiate the Algorithm": Labor Unions, Scale and Industry 4.0 Experimentation." In Revaluing Work(ers): Toward a Democratic and Sustainable Future. T, S., T, V. (eds.) Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) Research, 2021.
    • Rutherford, T., In International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. A, K. (ed.) Labor Geography, 2020.
    • Rutherford, T., "Labour Geography." In International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Elsevier Press, 2009.
    • Bunting, T., Rutherford, T., "Transitions in an era of globalization and world city growth." In Canadian Cities in Transition: Local Through Global Perspectives. Oxford University Press, 2006.
    • Holmes, J., Fitzgibbon, S. and Rutherford, T., "Innovation in the Automotive Tool, Die and Mould Industry : A Case Study of the Windsor-Essex Region." In Global Networks and Local Linkages: The Paradox of Cluster Development in an Open Economy. Wolfe, D., Lucas, M. (eds.) School of Policy Studies, 2005.
    • Fitzgibbon, S., Holmes , J., Kumar, P. and Rutherford, T., "Shifting gears: Restructuring and innovation in the Ontario automotive parts industry." In Clusters in A Cold Climate: innovation Dynamics in a Diverse Economy Innovation Systems Research Network School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON School of Policy Studies. Wolfe, D., Gertler, M. (eds.) Queen’s University and McGill-Queen’s Press, 2004.
    • Rutherford, T., In Innovation Clusters and Interregional Competition. Brocker, J., Dohse, D. and Soltwedel, R. (eds.) , 2003.
  • Book Review
    • Rutherford, T., ""Book Review: Work Organizational Reforms and Employment Relations in the Automotive Industry: American Employment Relations in Transition, by Kenichi Shinohara"." In ILR Review. Cornell University, ILR School, 2024.
  • Encyclopedia Entry
    • Rutherford, T., "Deskilling." In The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology Wiley. , 2017.

Presentations and Events

Rutherford, T., Frangi, L., Pulignano, V., David Marsden Memorial Conference, London School of Economics, "Zones of acceptance and contestation: Workplace Participation Forums, Industry 4.0 and Quality of Working Life" (June 26, 2023)

"Association of American Geographers Driving Forward? Worker Power and Technological Transitions in the Southern Ontario-Great Lakes States Automotive Region" (March 23, 2023)