In the wake of the information revolution, the advent of new information and communication technologies (NICTs) and virtual proximity  has enabled the spatial disconnection of businesses’ economic functions  (cf. Table 1). Just as, globally, the geography of economic production has experienced significant changes, this new reality has modified the role of cities in the global economy and has even affected their internal spatial structure. For a metropolis such as Paris, this raises questions about the existence of and forms taken by a new functional division of jobs within the metropolitan area.
business functions according to Insee (2009)
|1. Farming and fishing
2. Construction and public works
4. Transport and logistics
5. Maintenance and repairs
7. Local services
8. Education and training
9. Health and social services
10. Public administration
|11. Design and research|
12. Intellectual services
14. Culture and leisure
Centre vs the suburbs: what contrasts exist in the Paris metropolitan area?
Measuring the spatial division of work on the basis of the economic functions exercised within companies reveals a structure that contrasts with the commonly held image of the Paris region where all the decision-making and design/conception tasks are concentrated in the centre, while production and execution tasks are relegated to the suburbs.
A study of the inequalities in the way economic functions are distributed, conducted at municipal level in the Paris region, shows that the hypothesis of an opposition between a metropolitan centre and an operational periphery does not hold true. This does not, however, imply that profound asymmetries between the centre and the periphery do not exist in terms of the distribution of business functions within the Paris region; they are simply of a different nature.
Specifically, there is a contrast between, on the one hand, Paris and the inner suburbs (municipalities shown in red on Maps 1 and 2), and, on the other hand, the rest of the Paris region. The former contains many more jobs than the latter, both “metropolitan” and “non-metropolitan”.
Source: Insee 2009 (Emplois au lieu de travail – Jobs by place of work). Maps created using GeoDa software (Anselin, Syabri and Kho 2006).
Workers of all types interact with one another – but some more than others
At municipal level, the functional division of jobs is asymmetrical: people employed in different functions do not have the same probability of interacting with one another.  Workers occupying metropolitan functions and employed in a given municipality are likely to encounter people occupying non-metropolitan functions in the same municipality (58%). By contrast, the chances of someone employed in a non-metropolitan function in a given municipality encountering workers in metropolitan functions in the same municipality are significantly lower, at just 35%.
Source: Insee (Recensement de la population – Census of the population). Calculations made using Segregation.mbx (Apparicio et al. 2008).
This result is due both to the fact that are, overall, more people employed in non-metropolitan functions and to the fact that metropolitan functions are overrepresented in the heart of the Paris region. In parallel, jobs involving metropolitan functions are particularly absent outside the centre of the region, where workers are employed in non-metropolitan functions tend be found in greater numbers.
This asymmetry in the likelihood of encounters between workers at the extremes of the functional hierarchy mirrors the residential segregation of social groups in the urban space. It has been previously observed that poorer people, in their place of residence, have little chance of rubbing shoulders with richer people, while the opposite is not true.
These observations raise the question of public action; furthermore, a number of territorial development approaches may be envisaged.
Three options for the (re)location of jobs in the Paris region
In the competition between global metropolises, decision-making, management and design activities are key elements of economic performance, and play an important role in the ranking and the future of each of these cities, which are the network leaders of the globalised economy. In this urban archipelago, each city possesses a unique combination of assets, attracting different multinational firms that benefit from these characteristics (Bourdeau-Lepage 2010). According to the recent Mori Memorial Foundation classification entitled Global Inner-City Power Index 2010 (Mori Memorial Foundation 2011), Paris is ranked as the number-one global metropolis, while at the same time having the most compact inner-city area among the cities considered,  mirroring the high concentration of jobs in the centre of the Paris metropolitan area.
At a time when South-East Asian cities are growing in importance, this functional hypercentrality could be viewed as Paris’s best asset if it wishes to hold its ranking among global cities; in this case, local public policy with regard to employment should be adapted appropriately.
Alternatively, a case could be made for the deconcentration of metropolitan functions within the Paris region. From the standpoint of workers’ well-being or social mix within companies, this would enable the development of a more balanced metropolis. It must not be forgotten that functional monocentrism typically has consequences on the well-being of employees: in particular, it implies significant inequalities in terms of housing and commuting time. This is the case of the least-qualified populations located far from the centre of the region, but the principle concerns the working population as a whole more generally.
Finally, we might choose to transpose the debates on social mix to the world of work, and thus consider whether minimum proportions of metropolitan and non-metropolitan jobs should be imposed on each municipality – for example, via land-use or planning regulations, as the buildings for each type of function are not the same. If such a position were to be adopted, it too would require a proactive policy of redeploying functions between outlying municipalities and central areas, with particular attention paid to the composition of the workforce in the heart of the Paris region.
Choosing between these three directions means making strategic choices regarding the interplay between the economic and urban development of the metropolis. It also means creating innovative public decision-making processes concerning the territorialisation of economic policies.
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- Bourdeau-Lepage, L. 2010. “Paris, une île en France dans l’archipel des métropoles”, in Gilli, F. (ed.), Paris, Métropole dans le monde, to be published.
- Hidalgo, A. and Mansat, P. 2012. “Paris, une métropole au défi de l’intelligence collective”, Métropolitiques, 10 December.
- Insee. 2009. Analyse fonctionnelle des emplois et cadres des fonctions métropolitaines.
- Mori Memorial Foundation. 2011. Global Power Inner-City Index 2010. Research of the “inner city” in the eight cities, Tokyo: Mori Memorial Foundation.
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