Meet Professor Stephan Weiler, Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair at the University of Birmingham – Part Two

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Professor Stephan Weiler is currently visiting City-REDI as a Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair. The Fulbright Distinguished Chair Awards are viewed as the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program, a global exchange program now in existence for over seventy years. In a series of blogs, Stephan will introduce himself, outline how this partnership came about, and what his Fulbright Scholarship will entail for City-REDI, the West Midlands, and other evolving regions across around the globe. He will give a Business School Lecture titled “Place Matters: Unlocking the Growing Global Inequality Puzzle” on the 1st of May, 17:00 – 18:00 at the Alan Walters Building, University of Birmingham.  You can find out more here. In this blog, Stephan outlines how the partnership with City-REDI came about:

Although globalization is the front-page trend in economic development, the prospects for workers, jobs, incomes, homes, and the growing question of inequality all manifest themselves at a very local level. In contrast to the predictions in the 1990s of an ultimately “flat” world economy, the reality is that economic successes – and stagnation – are regional phenomena across the planet. Most studies have focused on larger cities to understand and explain the processes of job and income creation, but smaller cities and rural economies are equally fundamental to a region’s dynamism, attractiveness, competitiveness, and quality of life. Key decision-making powers on economic development have been devolved to the local and regional levels for nearly four decades in the US, and much more recently in the UK. While local actors may be more aware and reactive to local needs, successful devolution depends critically on regional public, private, and non-profit decision-makers having the necessary information to make informed decisions on issues ranging from infrastructure to trade to culture.

It is this broad integrated vision that underlies our emerging partnership between City-REDI, our nascent Regional Economic Development at Colorado State University (REDI@CSU), and the founder of the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory (REAL). The development of City-REDI, in fact, inspired me to create a sister institute at Colorado State University (CSU), with the parallel naming as a tribute to that inspiration. This trilateral partnership aims to build novel approaches to understanding regional economic growth and competitiveness. REDI@CSU is based in the rapidly growing entrepreneur- and technology-driven state of Colorado, while City-REDI lies in the West Midlands, one of Europe’s classic industrial belts, that is in the process of reinventing itself. The Fulbright award provides a valuable opportunity to share American experiences to help City-REDI’s input to local and regional policy agencies as they take on devolved powers and responsibilities.

Although globalization is the front-page trend in economic development, the prospects for workers, jobs, incomes, homes, and the growing question of inequality all manifest themselves at a very local level.

The aim is to develop integrated comparative research that will share new theory, empirical testing, and best practices in regional economic development between the US and the UK, in turn providing local and regional officials with the highest quality information on which to base decisions. As host for this Fulbright award, City-REDI’s research program is helping shape the UK’s public and scholarly debates in the areas of regional economic development; the transatlantic collaboration will contribute significantly to refining and advancing this program.

The tripod collaboration has unusually convergent complementarities in their joint missions to better understand, assess, and inform decision-makers on regional economic development issues, from jobs and inequality to the role of culture and the arts. City-REDI has a regional mandate uniting the study of both a core city and its rural neighbours, utilizing an evolving simulation model benefiting from wide-ranging consulting and case-study business experience. REDI@CSU specializes in the statistical analysis of economic growth across diverse regional economies to distil information that informs specific regions but is also generalizable to others. These growth models incorporate entrepreneurship as a driver of regional dynamism and the extent to which entrepreneurial clustering can enhance growth further.

In addition, the institutes share a broad view on “economic development,” namely that it must incorporate evolving gender roles, environmental sustainability, quality-of-life, connectivity, and resiliency. The collaborative tripod is developing an international reputation for this integrative approach that defines the “Birmingham perspective.” My role is applying the evolving spatial statistical research of regional job and income growth across the diverse US economic landscape to the UK context, with special attention to the West Midlands region and the role of entrepreneurial small enterprise development. Our analyses will further incorporate fresh indicators on a region’s economic resiliency after a variety of potential shocks, following a risk and return portfolio perspective I have used in past work. The lessons from the comparative statistical analyses will also be introduced into City-REDI’s general equilibrium model of the UK’s regional economies, such as the implications of differing rural/urban consumption and income patterns on local and national economies.


This blog was written by Professor Stephan Weiler, Director, REDI@CSU, Colorado State University and Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair at the University of Birmingham. 

You can read Part One here.

Stephan will give a Business School Lecture titled “Place Matters: Unlocking the Growing Global Inequality Puzzle” on the 1st of May, 17:00 – 18:00 at the Alan Walters Building, University of Birmingham.  You can find out more here.

Disclaimer: 
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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