...a different view

Current Projects & Engagement

In our current work we challenge the economic assumptions of the whole post 1979 period, reframe economic and industrial problems, and seek to offer constructive alternatives. Our major focus is the new Manchester Capitalism flagship series of short books which is backed up by various externally funded projects led by different team members and by research partnerships, including our long standing partnership with Enfield Council.


We aim to publish two short books each year in the Manchester Capitalism book series with one books authored by the core team. Like our early publications on financialization, these books propose reframings and run ahead of current understandings. The first book in the series, End of the Experiment? is intended as the first instalment of a longer term programme with two key elements 


(1) We aim to develop a new and accessible language for thinking about the heterogeneity of the economy. Hence the concern with the ‘foundational economy’ and now the ‘grounded city’ which draws on ideas that the economy consists of different zones, that there is a large zone of mundane activity which is, or should be, outside the sphere of competition 


(2) We aim to continue illustrating mismanagement of the foundational economy with sectoral ‘follow the money’ research. Government increasingly offers private capital lucrative sheltered monopolies within the foundational economy (in everything from adult care to waste management) which are not in the public interest because they inhibit social innovation and siphon taxpayer funds upwards and away from localities and regions. The second book in the Manchester Capitalism series will be about out sourcing 


The question now is whether we can hold this focus and develop these ideas in the next few years With the end of core funding for CRESC, one major task is not only to win research project funding but also to build the academic networks and non-academic partnerships that can sustain continued movement. One major development is the first meetings of an international network on the foundational economy, where mainland European academics are taking the leading role. A team of Italian colleagues, led by Angelo Salento, is writing a book on the foundational economy in Italy. 


We are continuing to bid for funding for academic research projects which sharpen our understanding of economic connections. The focus of our current funded projects in 2014-15 is on the limits of industrial policy intervention at a point in a world of chain interconnections. Because we now have several streams of output, individual team members will lead on different projects. Julie Froud is the principal on a funded project on textile re-shoring and Adam Leaver is co-investigator on a research council project about food supply chains. Both projects will produce academic outputs


But following on the success of earlier public interest reports on meat supply and railways, we have raised our ambitions. Our question now is whether we can work with partners to use such public interest reports to change public agendas in ways which open the way to policy experiments which are scalable. We are therefore in continuous dialogue with partners including Enfield Council and the Federation of Small Businesses (Wales) about shared projects where our concerns overlap and change can be levered.


Scalable change requires regional government or city regions prepared to innovate in areas which are blocked in Whitehall and Westminster; and the prospects of radical change are best in localities and policy areas where existing policies have manifestly failed. Hence our focus on two research themes and partnerships which will in due course generate major public interest reports. 


Inn partnership with the FSB Wales, we will be working on alternative industrial policies for disadvantaged regions like Wales which slides further behind on all the standard measures of economic and industrial activity. The aim here is a public interest report to be published in September 2015. 


In partnership with Enfield’s Social Care department and in tandem with a Welsh Cardiff project at the WISERD centre on adult social care. This is a major challenge for an ageing society that is currently being managed unconstructively by outsourcing to financialized firms paying low wages and delivering low quality care.