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Tod Rutherford

Tod Rutherford

Contact Information:


535 Eggers Hall

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Wales, Cardiff, 1992


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.  


(2021, forthcoming) Rutherford, T ““Negotiate the Algorithm”: Labor unions, Scale and Industry 4.0 Experimentation” in Schulze-Cleven T and Vachon T (eds)  Revaluing Work(ers): Toward a Democratic and Sustainable Future  Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) Research Volume 2021

(2020) Rutherford T Frangi, L “Is Industry 4.0 a Good Fit for High Performance Work Systems? Trade Unions and Workplace Change in the Southern Ontario Automotive Assembly Sector”, Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations 75-4, 2020, 751-773

(2020) Rutherford, T.. Labor Geography. In: Kobayashi, A. (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2nd edition. vol. 8, Elsevier, pp. 59–64. ISBN: 9780081022955 

(2019) Rutherford T. Frangi L “Acted upon and acted through: Unions, Consent and Contestation vis-a-vis High Performance Work Systems in the Automobile Industry” Economic and Industrial Democracy

(2018)  Rutherford, T. “Commentary on Bryan Palmer’s Approaching Working Class History as Struggle: A Canadian Contemplation; A Marxist Mediation” Dialectical Anthropology

(2018) Rutherford, T and Frangi, L “Overturning Italy’s article 18: exogenous and endogenous pressures, and role of the state” Economic and Industrial Democracy Vol. 39, 3 439–457

(2018) Rutherford T, Murray G, Pelard, M, Almond, P. State accumulation projects and inward investment regimes strategies, Regional Studies, 52,4, 572-584, 

(2017) Rutherford, T. "Deskilling" in D. Richardson (ed) The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology  Wiley, New York DOI: 10.1002/9781118786352.wbieg0198

(2017) Holmes, J and Rutherford T, and Carey, “Challenges Confronting the Canadian Automotive Components Industry: What Role for Public Policy?” Canadian Public Policy  43, 1, 75-89 DOI:

(2014) Rutherford, T. and Holmes, J. “Regional resilience and the restructuring of automotive production in the Great Lakes States Southern Ontario Cross-Border Region” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 7 (3): 359-378

(2013) Rutherford, T. and Holmes, J. “(Small) differences that (still) matter? Cross-border regions and work place governance in the Southern Ontario and US Great Lakes automotive industry” Regional Studies, 47 : 116 – 127

(2013) Rutherford, T. “Scaling up by law? Canadian labour law, the nation-state and the case of the British Columbia Health Employees Union”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 38, 1 25-35 

(2010) Rutherford T. De/Re-Centering Work and Class? A Review and Critique of Labour Geography  Geography Compass4, 7, 468-477

(2009) Rutherford, T. Labour Geography in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography R. Kitchen, N. Thrift (eds) Elsevier Press, Amsterdam

(2008) Rutherford, T. “Commentary: Jamie Peck’s Work Place: The Social Regulation of the Labor Market” Progress in Human Geography, 32: 571-582

(2008) Rutherford, T., Holmes, J. “’The Flea on the Tail of the Dog’: Power in Global Production Networks and the Restructuring of Automotive Clusters in Southern Ontario”, The Journal of Economic Geography 8: 519-544 

(2008) Rutherford, T., Holmes, J. Engineering Networks: University-industry networks in the Southern Ontario automobile Industry, The Cambridge Journal of Regions,  Economy, and Society   

(2007) Rutherford, T., Holmes, J. “We simply have to do that stuff for our survival”: Labour, Firm Innovation and Cluster Governance in the Canadian Automotive Parts Industry, Antipode  39, 1  194-221

(2007) Rutherford, T., Holmes, J. “Entrepreneurship, knowledge and learning in the formation and evolution of industrial clusters: The Case of the  Windsor, Ontario Machine Tool and Mould Cluster” International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 7,  -  2/3/4/5  320-344

(2006) Rutherford, T. "Local Representations in Crisis: Associational Governance and the Case of the UK TECs and Ontario Local Boards", Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 24

(2006) Rutherford, T. "Requiem or Rebirth? Internal Labour Markets and Labour Market Restructuring in the Kitchener and Sault Ste Marie Regions" The Canadian Geographer 50, 2, 197-216

(2006) T. Bunting, Rutherford, T. "Canadian perspectives on globalization and the world city" in Canadian Cities in Transition: Continuity and Change in the Twenty-First Century, T. Bunting, P. Filion (eds) Oxford University Press, Toronto

(2005) Holmes, J., Fitzgibbon, S., Rutherford, T. "Innovation in the Automotive Tool, Die and Mould Industry : A Case Study of the Windsor-Essex Region", D. Wolfe, M. Lucas eds. In Global Networks and Local Linkages: The Paradox of Cluster Development in an Open Economy, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University and McGill-Queen’s Press 119-154

(2004) Rutherford, T. "Convergence, The Institutional Turn and Workplace Regimes: The Case of Lean Production", Progress in Human Geography 28, 4, 425-447

(2004) Fitzgibbon, S., Holmes, J., Kumar, P., Rutherford, T. "Shifting gears: Restructuring and innovation in the Ontario automotive parts industry", D. Wolfe and M. Gertler eds 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 with S.

(2003) Rutherford, T. "Labour, Innovation and Scale", In J Brocker, D. Dohse R. Soltwedel (ed) Innovation Clusters and Interregional Competition (Springer Publishers, Berlin), 272-292

(2002) Rutherford, T., Gertler, M. "Labour in Lean Times: Geography, Scale and the National Trajectories of Workplace Change" Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 27, 195-212

(2001) Rutherford, T. "Mutual Adaptation: Japanese Automobile Transplants in North America and the Restructuring of Buyer-Supplier Relations", Environments 29 (3) 73-89

(2001) Parker, P., Koshiba, T., Rutherford, T. "Japanese Automakers and the NAFTA Environment: Global Context" Environments 29 (3) 15-34

(2001) Rutherford, T., Parker, P., Koshiba, T "Global, Local, or Hybrid?: Evidence of Adaptation among Japanese Automobile Plants in Japan, the United States and Canada", Environments 29 (3) 1-14

(2001) Rutherford, T. "The State of Training: Learning, Institutional Innovation and Local Boards in Ontario" Environment and Planning A, 33, 1871-1891

(2000) Rutherford, T. "Re-embedding, Japanese Investment and the Restructuring of Buyer-Supplier Relations in the Canadian Automotive Components Industry During the 1990s", Regional Studies 34, 8, 739-751

(2000) P. Filion, T., Rutherford, "Employment Transitions in the City" in P. Filion, T. Bunting (eds) The Canadian City in Transition : The 21st Century (Oxford University Press), 357-380

(1998) "Still in Training?' Labour Unions and the Restructuring of Canadian Labour Market Policy", Economic Geography, April, 131-148

(1997) Peck, J., Rutherford, T. "Tools for the job? Decentralization, partnership and market forces in British and Canadian labour market policy" in A. Sharpe, R. Haddow (eds) Social Partnerships for Training? Labour Force Development Boards in Canada, (Centre for Policy Studies: Queen's University, Kingston), 251-290

(1996) "The Socio-Spatial Restructuring of Canadian Labour Markets", in J. Britton (ed) Canada and the Global Economy: The Geography of Structural and Technological Change Space Economy , (McGill-Queens Press: Montreal), 407-432

(1996) "The Local Solution? The Schumpeterian Workfare State, Labour Market Governance and Local Boards for Training in Kitchener, Ontario", Regional Studies, 30, 4, 413-428

(1995) "'Control the One's You Can' Restructuring, Recruitment and Training In Kitchener-Waterloo Manufacturing, 1987-1992" The Canadian Geographer, 39, 1, pp. 30-45

(1994) "From 'Sitting By Nellie' to the 'Classroom Factory'? The Restructuring of Skills, Recruitment and Training In A South Wales Motor Components Plant", International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 18, 3, pp. 470-490 

Presentations and Events

2006 Faustian Bargains? The Canadian Auto Workers, State Policy and the Restructuring of the Canadian Auto Industry" presented at Association of American Geographers Annual Conference Chicago Illinois March 7th-11th

2005 "We simply have to do that stuff for our survival": Labour, Firm Innovation and Cluster Governance in the Canadian Automotive Parts Industry (with John Holmes) Presented at the Institute of British Geographers London UK 30th August-2nd September 2005

2005 "A Question of Governance?: Global Production Networks, and the Restructuring of Automotive Clusters in Windsor and Kitchener, Ontario Presented the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference Denver Colorado, April 5th-9th

2004" Labour, Innovation and Governance: A Case Study of the Canadian Auto Parts Industry" (with John Holmes) Presented at the "Workers and Labour Markets in the Global Automotive Industry" International Conference, October 22nd-23rd McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario

2004 "The Forces of Codification: Knowledge, Supply Chain Restructuring and Innovation in the Windsor, Ontario Machine Tool and Mould Cluster" (with John Holmes) presented at the DRUID Summer conference in Elsinore, Denmark June 14th-16th 2004

2004 "Exit vs. Voice? The Scalar Dynamics of Labour Relations, Labour Market Governance" and Innovation Presented the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, Philadelphia PA March 15-20th 2004

2003 "Into the Hidden Abode: Industrial Relations, Labour Unions and Innovation, Paper presented" at the DRUID Summer Conference 2003 on Creating, Sharing and Transferring Knowledge.The Role of Geography, Institutions and Organization Copenhagen June 12-14, 2003

2003 "Requiem or Rebirth? Internal Labour Markets and Labour Market Restructuring in the Kitchener and Sault Ste Marie Regions" presented at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference New Orleans LA 3rd-8th March 2003

2002 "Local Representations in Crisis: Associational governance and UK Training and Enterprise Councils and Ontario Local Boards for Training and Adjustment" presented at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference Los Angeles 19th-23rd March 2002

2001 "Opportunities and Dilemmas: Labour and Regional Innovation" presented at the Workshop "Innovation Clusters and Interregional Competition Workshop" at the Kiel Institute of World Economics, in Kiel Germany 12th-13th November 2001, sponsored by the OECD and the Kiel Institute of World Economics,

2001 "Labour in Lean Times: Geography, Scale and the National Trajectories of Workplace Change" (with Meric Gertler) presented at the Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Conference, Montreal, Quebec May 2001

2001 "Convergence and Industrial Relations Regimes" presented at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, New York City, 29th February –3rd March 2001