The LIPSIT project will identify those institutional and organisational arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs associated with increasing productivity, and to make recommendations to policy makers based on this.

These trade-offs are between productivity growth, inclusivity and sustainability. They arise because authorities have limited resources and have to prioritise: 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’ 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 achieve their priorities.

The project aims to answer the following research questions:

  1. What kinds of relevant institutional and organisational arrangements exist across the UK regions? How do the regional economies compare?
  2. What kinds of trade-offs do these organisations consider important and how do they manage them?
  3. What trade-offs between productivity growth, inclusivity and sustainability are actually achieved?
  4. Which regional institutional and organisational arrangements, now or in the past, have tended to produce ‘good’ management of these trade-offs? Are there better practices in mainland Europe?

To answer these involves a five stage process:

  • Stage 1 (scoping): we will capture the state of the art on what explains differentials in productivity, interview and hold two workshops for key stakeholders to refine the research agenda, engage with a wider stakeholder group, and develop a typology of UK regions based on their economies, their institutional and organisational arrangements, and the outcomes over time. We will use this to identify eight regions for in depth comparison.
  • Stage 2 (secondary data analysis): we will profile all UK regions using measures of productivity, jobs and other economic, social, and environmental targets and examine influences on productivity growth. We will also analyse local industrial and economic strategies, including performance targets.
  • Stages 3 and 4: involve the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative analysis – of all UK regions – will focus on the impact of governance structures, mechanisms and practices on variables associated with the three outcomes, using approaches that allow for so called “treatment” effects, and to distinguish correlation from causation. The qualitative analysis – of the 8 regions – will include formal analysis of strategic statements, networks, and the functions carried out within these networks, as well as interviews. We will identify what trade-offs are actually achieved and use formal analysis to tease out how institutional arrangements have affected these and the strategic choices – and what might make a difference in the future. We will supplement this with insights from an analysis of overseas regions and historical cases.
  • Stage 5: involves drawing together the findings of the previous stages, discussing this with key stakeholders, developing a set of recommendations with them, and communicating with a wider stakeholder group.

The project’s impact consists in helping regional and local policy makers responsible for industrial strategy to make good trade-offs between productivity growth, inclusivity and sustainability. In order to achieve this, it will help national policy makers improve the design of the institutional and organisational systems through which these strategies are created and implemented.