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Research project

ESRC, Structural Transformation, Adaptability and city Economic Evolutions

Project overview

In Britain today, getting to grips with the way city economies perform has become crucial for policymakers in resolving the productivity puzzle, the economic imbalance between north and south, and supporting business and industry growth. This project aims to:

Examine and explain the economic growth paths of British cities in terms of how far and in what ways local leaders have been able to adapt and transform their economic base over what has been a period of intense economic change and disruption.
Understand the scope for national policy intervention to enable cities successfully to adapt to structural change in a world of increasingly devolved decision making and new forms of city-region governance.
Research questions
The main theory to be addressed by this research project is that: The difference seen in the medium- to long-term growth of different cities is largely due to the differences between cities’ ability to transform their economic structures and adapt to changing economic climates.

To address this theory, more specific research questions will include:

How has the industrial structure of the national economy changed and evolved over time?
How have these structural transformations been distributed across British cities and non-urban areas?
How have the economic structures of British cities changed over time?
How and why have cities varied in economic adaptability and to what degree has this been shaped by their industrial ensembles?
What has been the role of economic structure and structural transformation in explaining city growth paths?
How have urban and related policies impacted on the structures and growth paths of British cities?


Lead researcher

Professor Peter Sunley

Professor in Human Geography

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

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