Attracting and Retaining Academic Talent in the City of Kingston, Ontario

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Hracs, Austin
City-Regions , Race , Talent Attraction , Tolerance , Whiteness
Recent analyses of creativity in the North American economy have underscored the importance of city-regions in the generation of economic dynamism. These studies have been concerned with at least two principal assertions. The first assertion is that the social dynamics of city-regions constitute the foundations of economic success. The second assertion is that the distribution of human capital (talent) is a crucial element in regional economic prosperity; yet the distribution of human capital across cities is uneven. Therefore, the question emerges: what factors influence the locational choices of talented individuals? In recent years, this question has received considerable scholarly attention. This thesis has identified two existing gaps within this field of inquiry. Conspicuously absent from studies in this area are theoretical insights offered by cultural geographers in the field of whiteness and race. Economic geographers have created an essentialized reading of racial diversity in the economic performance of city-regions. Moreover, work in this area has been constrained by a quantitative focus and a lack of empirical evidence. Accordingly, the purpose of this thesis is to develop a more nuanced understanding of how social processes and institutions underlie and are shaped by the economic performance of city-regions. This is achieved by drawing on insights from an empirical study of 44 semi-structured interviews with academic talent in the City of Kingston, Ontario and 12 interviews with community insiders. The results on the one hand reveal complex dynamics linked to why academics live in particular places, but on the other hand point to one overriding explanation for why academics locate where they do: namely, academics are attracted to Kingston, first and foremost, because of academic jobs, not urban amenities or other characteristics of place.
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