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The Decline, Flexibility and Geographical Restructuring of Employment in British Retail Banks

Antonia Sinden
The Geographical Journal
Vol. 162, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 25-40
Published by: geographicalj
DOI: 10.2307/3060214
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3060214
Page Count: 16
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The Decline, Flexibility and Geographical Restructuring of Employment in British Retail Banks
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Abstract

Financial services were intimately associated with the 1980s British economic boom, and retail banking was one of the fastest growing areas of this sector, with employment growth concentrated in South East England and especially in Greater London. Since 1989, however, retail banking has experienced rapid employment decline and extensive restructuring. This paper outlines the nature, and discusses possible causes, of three aspects of recent employment change in retail banking - job loss, rising flexibility and geographical restructuring. Massive job losses are argued to have resulted from the interaction of deregulation, technological advancement and increased competition with rising corporate pressure to maximize profits. It is shown that while work organization in retail banks is becoming more flexible, individual jobs are more rigidly defined and constrained than previously. Job losses are shown to have been heavily concentrated in South East England, with changing work practices and the decreasing advantages of Greater London motivating the decentralization of headquarter employment to other southern regions, often outside the South East. Evidence presented here supports and reinforces recent claims that there has been a diminishing of the British 'north-south divide' in economic development which was observed by many geographers over the 1980s.

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