Personal statements of research activity
My work is mainly at the interface of theory and data, developing theoretical models of regional productivity and GDP per capita growth and convergence and testing them against real world data. The branch of theory known as ‘new economic geography' is motivating my on going research effort, in which I develop models incorporating spatial interaction and externalities, and show the implications of this for equilibrium. Several other publications are in the process of development. I am also interested in the theory and methodology of spatial econometrics. Work at an early stage of development but with significant research potential involves developing and applying advanced spatial econometric methods in collaboration with Professor Bob Haining (Geography). Within the group, we (Fingleton and Dr John McCombie) have collaborated on extensions to the Verdoorn Law, which has also been the subject of our individual research efforts. Other collaborative work has developed out of the Department’s postgraduate programme, notably joint publication with a former research student (Dr Phil McCann, Reading University). My interest in methodology has produced several theoretical or methodology oriented publications, for example in the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Regional Science and the International Review of Applied Economics.
My research has been partly motivated by my work as a consultant for Cambridge Econometrics, involving publication of the results of some quite large projects (eg Fingleton B, Lewney R and Pinelli D, 1997, Regional Growth and Convergence published as Vol 1 of Subseries VI of the European Commission's Single Market Review, Kogan Page, Pinelli, D, Giacometti, R, Lewney, R, and Fingleton, B, 1998, European Regional Competitiveness Indicators, Discussion Paper 103, Department of Land Economy,1998). I am also a consultant for Directorate General ‘Regional Policy’ of the European Commission. I have recently completed an econometric analysis for the forthcoming 2nd Cohesion report (my report will be published by the EC as ‘An econometric analysis of trends and disparities in GDP in the regions of the European Union and the Candidate countries’).
In the future I will be taking part in a large research initiative following my appointment as the UK representative on the management committee for a large budget pan-European COST project extending over 4 years. This will be focussed on regional development and convergence in Europe around the theme of small and medium enterprises under the direction of the management committee. The initiative involves working group meetings, conferences and workshops and initiating, developing and supporting short term scientific missions for young regional scientists and economists, and the dissemination of the scientific results of the project, including the writing of annual reports, papers and books (one per working group).
Work has continued on various aspects concerned with the theoretical and empirical aspects of regional (defined broadly to include national) growth rates. Earlier work had been concerned with the role of the balance-of-payments in constraining growth rates both at the national and the regional level. The outcome was a major book co-authored with Professor AP Thirlwall, Economic Growth and the Balance-of-Payments Constraint (Macmillan 1994). Subsequent research includes work on the Verdoorn law (partly in collaboration with Dr Fingleton and partly on my own). Joint work in this area is also being undertaken with M Roberts (PhD student and Fellow of Hew Hall, Cambridge). A major theme of this research programme has been some problems with the concept of neoclassical aggregate production function and the measurement and interpretation of technical change that has followed the approach of Solow. This has been partly in collaboration with Dr J Felipe of the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) and a number of papers have been published or are forthcoming. The culmination of this work will be the publication of a book Measuring Economic Growth: An Evaluation and Critique of the Aggregate Production Function, to be published by Edgar Elgar. Given that this is a critique of most methods of measuring economic growth at the macroeconomic level, it is anticipated that future work will consider alternative approaches at the microeconomic level.
Research has been based on four separate, but interwoven, platforms. The first has related to the evaluation and development of urban and regional policies and in this respect I am managing a £1.7 million research programme for the DETR concerned to monitor and assess the achievements of a HM Government main policy initiative designed to bring about economic and social regeneration across England. The work involves a large scale household survey of the factors which provoke social exclusion and the role for policy intervention. Outputs todate have comprised a number of research reports and dissemination of key research findings at conferences and workshops in the United Kingdom and Abroad. I have also been an expert advisor to the DETR and other Government Departments including the Office of Fair Trading and the National Audit Office. Besides the SRB evaluation I have been involved in assessing the effectiveness of a range of national government policy measures including the Enterprise Zone Experiment, the Making Belfast Work Initiative, Rural Development Commission policy, Urban Development Corporations, the New Deal for Communities and a range of labour market programmes to designed reduce unemployment. I have recently completed with colleagues from other Universities a review of the evidence base for local area regeneration policy for DETR. I have given expert advice to a number of Government Departments, the OECD and the European Commission on aspects of regeneration policy.
The second component of my research has been directed towards analysing the implications of European Union on the regions of the European Union and the consequences for regional economic growth and development. The work has been funded by the Leverhulme Foundation and has had a comparative dimension in that it has sought to compare and contrast labour market flexibility and employment growth across Europe in relation to the experience of the United States. The research programme has developed links with academics and policy makers across the European Union and the United States and is now beginning to address issues relating to the regional convergence and the role for policy intervention.
A third component relates to work into Small and Medium Enterprises and this research has investigated the factors responsible for business success. Some aspects of the work have concentrated on the development of high technology businesses and academic spin outs. I was a research manager for a major programme of research designed to investigate Academic Spin Outs as a means of encouraging technology transfer and also the development of new technology based companies. This research involved comparative research with Cambridge, MIT (Boston), Scotland and Holland. I am a Visiting Professor at Queen’s University in Belfast assisting in a major research initiative funded by the European Commission under the Leder Two Programme designed to investigate the factors responsible for business success in the countryside and this work is now involving collaboration with research from Queen’s University and researchers in Cambridge and elsewhere.
The fourth research component involves working extensively with the private sector and has required the development of econometric models with which to forecast key economic variables for national and local property markets. This work has been undertaken in collaboration with the private sector. Other work with the private sector has involved a number of econometric studies designed to produce a range of economic models.
All of the above are on-going.