The presentation elaborated on the research methodology for a comparative case study undertaken by the City Evolutions project for analysing the roles of policies and institutions in the capacity of cities to adapt to economic change over time.
Despite growing acceptance and recognition of the integral roles of economic policies and institutions in city change and development, identifying the precise ways in which certain policies and specific institutions did or did not make any difference remains a weak spot in urban and regional analysis. Hence specifying a methodology to assess the likely impact of institutions and policy on the economic evolution of cities, is beset by some thorny issues.
Emil Evenhuis also presented some first empirical evidence drawn from the still ongoing case studies; in particular from Glasgow and Middlesbrough.
The general argument is that seeking to construct plausible explanatory accounts of the causal roles and processes of policy and institutional agency can benefit from:
- constructing diagnoses of the particular problems and formulation of policy responses and institutional design in each city;
- periodisation and the identification of episodes of relative stability and crisis or turning points in city economic trajectories;
- categorising the utilisation of different policy types and institutional architectures; and,
- teasing out illustrative evidence where policy and/or institutions have meaningfully shaped city evolutionary pathways and adaptive processes.
‘Structural Transformation, Adaptability and City Economic Evolutions’ (see www.cityevolutions.org.uk) is a major ESRC-funded project (under its Urban Transformations programme), which aims to examine and explain the divergent economic performance of British cities in terms of the capacity of cities to adapt and transform their economic base over time.
On the basis of this, also the scope for policy intervention will come into view to enable cities to adapt successfully to economic change in the context of increasingly devolved decision making and new forms of city-region governance.
The project consists on the one hand of quantitative analysis of various datasets with economic indicators (GVA, employment, productivity, innovation, firm-dynamics, etc.) for various sectors for 85 cities (defined as travel-to-work-areas with a population exceeding 200,000) from 1971 until 2014. And on the other hand, of in-depth case studies of five cities (Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Bristol and Peterborough), to examine the role of institutional arrangements and policies in the adaptive capacity of cities.
In this presentation Emil focused especially on the case study methodology and some preliminary findings.
For more information, or to register to future seminars, please contact Alyson Ross.