Dr Charlotte Hoole returns to City-REDI

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I’m excited to return to City-REDI after temporarily parting ways to take up the opportunity to be an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been doing whilst I’ve been away and what I’ll be working on now I’m back.

As an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, I was very fortunate to be able to dedicate an entire year increasing the impact of my PhD research, something which I realise isn’t always possible as early careers move on to other roles and projects. I spent this time gathering new data to complement my existing, writing publications for academic journals and other more policy-related platforms, and presenting my research at conferences and other events. By far the most enjoyable part of this experience was being back out in the field interacting with stakeholders at the coalface of policy – something I’ve always found to be the most rewarding part of the research I do that in the broadest sense has been focused on city-regions, devolution and local governance. It is the findings of this research that I’ve been keen to disseminate during my Fellowship, which took me as far as New Zealand for the RSA’s Australasia Conference and Washington for the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Washington. Whilst, of course, being fantastic places to visit, the feedback and knowledge I gained, the conversations I shared and the interesting people I met have been invaluable for shaping my thinking for papers and building my networks for future research collaborations.

Looking ahead, I’ve returned to City-REDI to work on LIPSIT (‘Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs’) alongside Professor Simon Collinson and a highly interdisciplinary and experienced team of researchers from the University of Surrey, Cardiff University, University of Warwick and Demos. Funded by the ESRC, this project will investigate the role local institutions have in managing the trade-offs that emerge when trying to grow regional economies in an inclusive and sustainable way. These trade-offs are between three objectives which form the basis for targets in Local Economic Plans and Industrial Strategies in the UK:

  • increasing productivity and productivity growth rates (‘productivity’)
  • sharing prosperity more widely (‘inclusivity’)
  • shifting to a low carbon economy that does not damage the environment (‘sustainability’)

Trade-offs arise because authorities have limited resources and have to prioritise – the problem being that policies to maximise productivity may not maximise inclusivity or sustainability, policies to maximise inclusivity may not maximise sustainability and so on. Trade-off management is ‘good’ first and foremost when it reduces the need for compromise between the three objectives, or to the extent that compromise is necessary when it helps regional policy makers understand both the nature of the trade-offs and the likely intended and unintended consequences of interventions, equipping them to better achieve their priorities.

This is an exciting and important new project that will contribute to a wealth of ongoing research to better understand the UK’s productivity puzzle.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone at City-REDI for their very warm welcome back – it’s great to be back part of the gang!

This blog was written by Dr Charlotte Hoole, Research Fellow at City-REDI, University of Birmingham.

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham.

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