Professor Andrew Beer just published a short article on theconversation.com, focusing on the real impacts resulted from the decisions of large industry actors and the lack of preparedness of governments to deal with such impacts.
The specific case to which Andrew is referring to is the decision of General Motors to stop manufacturing in Australia starting from 2017. He points out that the first and visible impact of this decision will be the loss of around 2900 jobs nationwide. However, usually talk regarding these issues stop at economic policy. Real human impacts and consequences that affect much more than just the economic policy, but rather workers, their families and in this case the automotive industry as a whole are somewhat ignored. These are long term impacts that have to be considered together with the global exposure of the automotive industry and its contracting trend.
Andrew emphasizes that in this context, short-term solutions like subsidies are to be taken with a grain of salt, and efforts should focus on creating more flexible, adaptive and pro-active solutions that can quickly respond to local and global change.
Building the case by also drawing on lessons from European countries and their use of EU Funds, Andrew points out that measures have to materialize in “well-considered strategies to build long term competitiveness” with a cross-sectoral approach. At the same time actions should focus on creating a common and inclusive agenda for growth.
To read the whole article visit theconversation.com
Professor Andrew Beer, PhD, is the Chair of the Regional Studies Association, and the Director of the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Adelaide.
12 Dec 2013
10 Dec 2013
|Photo: Marcin Dąbrowski|
One of our members, Marcin Dąbrowski is about to publish two short articles reporting the findings from his research financed with the RSA Early Career Grant, which examined – for the first time – the use of Financial Engineering Instruments (FEI), the innovative tools for supporting urban development as part of EU cohesion policy.
The current context of crisis and austerity added urgency to the debate on the effectiveness of EU cohesion policy, prompting the search for new instruments and governance mechanisms. FEI were put forward as a solution for enhancing the quality of spending and ensuring more sustainable impacts of EU cohesion policy by offering revolving financial assistance and stimulating new kinds of partnerships between the public authorities, financial institutions and private investors.
Marcin's research offers a particularly well-timed contribution, given that FEI are set to become a mainstream delivery mechanism in the upcoming 2014-2020 period, while we know little about how they operate in practice and how to make sure that they deliver on their promises.
Financial Engineering Instruments and multi-level governance: thawing the ice between the public and private actors in urban development policy?
Marcin's first paper based on this research will be out in the upcoming issue of the Regions magazine. In this paper he summarises the insights from his study on Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA), providing revolving funding for urban development projects. This research is the first scholarly foray into this topic and sheds light on the implementation of this instrument as well as its impacts on the patterns of governance at the regional level.
|Source: Photo by author, 3D images by Marshal Office of Wielkopolskie Region|
JESSICA created scope for expanding the horizontal dimension of the multi-level governance of EU cohesion policy by stimulating cooperation of the sub-national authorities with financial institutions (e.g. European Investment Bank or domestic banks) and private investors. However, as the evidence from the Polish and Spanish regions suggests, its implementation proves extremely challenging and is hampered by numerous obstacles, coordination and capacity gaps, reluctance towards public-private cooperation as well as resistance among the policy actors on the ground accustomed to grant-based support. This in turn underlines the practical limitations of multi-level governance and of FEI as tools for promoting urban development.
EU cohesion policy - how to deliver more tangible results?
The second short paper, that will be published in the forthcoming issue of Regional Insights, is a commentary on the contested effectiveness of EU cohesion policy and also partly draws on examples from Marcin's research on JESSICA.
|Source: Photo by Author, 3D images: Impulsa, El Puerto de Santa Maria|
The paper, examines how administrative deficiencies and careless spending of EU funds to satisfy the desires of the local electorates negatively impact on the delivery and effectiveness of cohesion policy. It stresses that in order to best utilise the EU cohesion policy’s potential to support economic development in economically lagging regions, one needs to recognise and dedicate more efforts to address administrative capacity deficiencies, particularly at the sub-national level. Moreover, the paper argues that the national and regional need courage and strong leadership to start thinking beyond short-term political gains and prioritising most relevant and sustainable investment.
For more detailed information look out for the full-length peer-reviewed papers based on Marcin's RSA Early Career project in 2014.
Marcin Dąbrowski is a research fellow at the Department of Urbanism, TU Delft. His research interests include EU cohesion policy, multi-level governance, regional and urban development in Europe and China and, most recently, governance of climate change policy in cities. He is the 2012 winner of the Routledge RSA Award for Early Career Excellence.
5 Dec 2013
The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government launched his reform proposals to generally underwhelming degrees of debate on the 12th October 2012 and a year later the Oireachtas is considering these reforms with the Local Government Bill 2013.
Outside the Department and the Oireachtas, the debate receives very little attention and input from the rest of us. The Regional Studies Association – Irish Branch aims to stimulate a more public debate. The editors of the PoliticalReform.ie blog have offered to host this debate. Over the next two weeks RSA Committee Members and other interested parties will offer opinion pieces, with the view of driving debate on a range of topics related to the Local Government Bill 2013. Today we kicked-off with a post, setting the scene for the debate and identifying potential issues.
http://politicalreform.ie/2013/11/28/debating-local-government-reform/Please check in regularly over the next couple of weeks. We encourage comments and debate. If you are interested, you can send opinion pieces to email@example.com
3 Dec 2013
This article is a summary by Paul Benneworth of the Top Tips on Presenting Skills Workshop held as part of the RSA European Conference 2013, Tampere, 6th May 2013. The editors of Regional Insights are grateful to the presenters at that workshop for their contributions and insights.
A highlight of academic life is attending conferences. No just an opportunity to hear leading speakers set out future research agendas and to discuss your own research in detail with your peers, conferences also involve travel, discovery, relaxation and catching up with friends. They are places where people’s voices are heard. At the heart of that lies giving a paper, which sets out your work, and allows others to debate, contribute, criticise and sharpen it before publication. But few delegates have either the time or the inclination to actually read your paper, especially if you are a new, almost unknown researcher. Giving a good presentation may be your best bet to create interest.
Constructing a good presentation can be a difficult and daunting process, but it is a vital skill to learn to get the most out of a conference attendance. The Regional Insights team organised a Skills Workshop at the recent RSA European Conference in Tampere. A good cross-section of RSA members were invited to reflect and discuss what made a really good conference paper. And in no particular order, they gave eight things they are looking for the next time they see you present!
1. You are the centre of a good presentation – give yourself the best chance to shine.
Presentations are a chance to market your research and persuade the unconvinced to spend their precious time reading your work. They become your peers, provide serious feedback, referee journal submissions and shape how your research makes an impact. Preparation is absolutely critical to persuading people of its value, so come up with ‘ideas you can believe in’: good ideas that are interesting for your audience!
2. Any presentation is competing for an audience’s attention.
It is bad enough with ten parallel sessions, but laptops, tablets and free WiFi mean boring speakers are quickly blanked out. To grab attention you need to offer a clear contribution – give the audience a takeaway message. Having clear steps is a great way to hold audiences’ attention. They follow your progress with you, feel satisfied with that progress, and are pleased to hear the final messages.
3. There are many kinds of audiences, all with different expectations regarding rigour, detail and societal implications.
Defending your PhD is different to speaking at an informal workshop or pitching to policy-makers. You MUST strike the right balance. There are also different cultures to conferences – the RSA conference is friendly and inclusive, but others can be more hostile. Know your audience, and know what a positive reaction sounds like!
4. Freshness is paramount: if you over-prepare, your ideas can seem stale.
You need to remember what the audience needs to hear – good starting points are the contemporary debates you are addressing. Remember to give the audience enough information to understand your idea, without bombarding them with everything that interested you. Everybody likes to see a few holiday snaps, but dreads going through a friend’s 300 photos after a vacation: conferences are no different. Be succinct, but keep it interesting.
5. Conference presentations are in competition, but there are “rules of the game”.
The cardinal rule is don’t speak for too long, as this steals time from other presenters or the audience. Realistically, you cannot get through more than one slide per minute, but you may go slower than that, particularly if you are distracted by minutiae. If you are running out of time, be prepared to prune: get to the punchline, give the takeaway message, and stop on time! And to ensure the session starts promptly, it doesn’t hurt to arrive early, get your slides ready and discuss the format with the chair.
6. Any presentation is part of a scientific conversation, so give the audience cues to engage with you.
This starts with your demeanour; eye contact and natural speech are essential. Preparing keywords and memorising a few sentences is far better than reading a presentation. Be willing to talk freely – you are the expert and people want to hear what you have to say. But people want time to respond so leave time for discussion. Don’t be defensive under questioning – be modest, accept shortcomings, and move the debate forward.
7. The presentation does not end with the last slide.
Conferences are coordinating moments in the lives of research communities, and provide opportunities to better understand that community. You can develop networks, leverage interest in your research, and share ideas informally and socially. If all else fails, visit the host town or region to get a wider perspective, clear the decks and think about your research in a new light.
8. Presenting is a critical academic skill, and learning it takes time.
Everyone has bad presentations, but good presenters learn and move on. But also learn from other people – think about what you like and dislike about other presenters. Ask others for constructive feedback and give it when asked. A good rule for feedback is “one good thing, one bad thing and an idea to improve”.
Lastly, keep in mind that even you have a bad day and feel embarrassed with your presentation, remember that being an academic is the best job in the world!
Paul Benneworth is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente, the Netherlands.
27 Nov 2013
You might have noticed that the RSA blog has been rather quiet lately. While we might be quiet, we are actively and continuously putting forward new and interesting projects.
As part of this process, the reins of the RSA blog, social media activities and online promotion have been handed over to me, Alexandru F. Ghita as Editor-in-Chief for online content. I was honoured to accept this role, and feel that this is my chance to give something back to the professional community, especially the RSA which have taken me in.
My predecessor here at the RSA blog, Alasdair Rae, has done a wonderful job at keeping the blog updated with interesting posts, events and editorials, and we thank you for that! However Alasdair is now moving forward as one of the Editor-in-Chief (along with Alex Singleton) of the new RSA open access journal published by Taylor and Francis: Regional Studies, Regional Science (RSRS). The journal's launch took place last week at the RSA Winter Conference 2013, and the first articles will appear this December.
On behalf the Regional Studies Association, I would also like to thank previous contributors to the RSA blog: Brian Webb, Cormac Walsh and Pedro Marques for creating excellent content for our readers and for their efforts towards RSA promotion online..
As part of my new role, I took it upon myself to help the transition of the blog as seamless as possible. You will probably notice some changes in the following weeks, in terms of looks, graphics, and organization. Also, I will try to guide the online content generation in order to transform the blog in an open pipeline of member generated online content. With this in mind I would like to encourage you to contact me or the RSA office if you want to participate with material along the way.
23 Jul 2013
The RSA's first North American conference is scheduled to take place at the University of California Los Angeles in December, but based on research from the UCLA Climate Sensitivity Research Lounge it may turn out to be a hot Christmas! Well maybe not this year, but the research highlights the impacts of climate change on weather temperatures between 2041 and 2060 on Los Angeles and the results are disturbing.
The research highlights business-as-usual and mitigation approaches, yet the first disturbing finding is that 70% of the business-as-usual temperature increase is unavoidable regardless of what mitigation efforts are made between now and 2041.
As well the number of hot days (temperatures greater than 95 degrees Fahrenheit / 35 degrees Celsius) will increase dramatically from approximately 60 to approximately 100 a year. Some places in LA will be harder hit than others as well, such as Downtown LA and Sunland.
With climate change also comes the risk of more wildfires as high temperatures and low humidity interact with the Santa Ana winds to more rapidly spread fires.
Taken together it is rather depressing news, but there is some hope as adaptation and mitigation can work to dampen the impact of climate change on the city region. To see the full research presentation by Professor Alex Hall click here.
1 Jul 2013
The current edition of Environment and Planning: A features Prof. Andreas Faludi's plenary paper, presented at the RSA European Conference at Delft University of Technology in May 2012. His paper: Territorial cohesion, territorialism, territoriality, and soft planning: a critical review provides a comprehensive review of recent theoretical and empirical work on the relationships between territoriality and spatial planning policy. He argues that planners (and presumably other policy-makers) must engage with multiple 'soft' spaces, crossing territorial borders and boundaries. This is particularly relevant in the context of cross-border and transnational regions of the European Union where the limits of territorial sovereignty and 'container-space' thinking become apparent. Prof. Faludi concludes his paper, however, by acknowledging that formal or 'hard' territorial spaces are the bases for the democratic legitmacy of decision-making and thus will continue to have a central role in territorial organisation, at least until convincing alternatives are found!
|Prof. Andreas Faludi, Technical University of Delft|
|Prof. John Tomaney, University College London|
Prof. John Tomaney's plenary paper from this year's RSA European Conference in Tampere, meanwhile is ,since last week, available as an 'online first' article for Progress in Human Geography, the leading geography journal for state-of-the-art review articles. His paper is specifically concerned with the role of institutions in regional development. He emphasises that institutions may be critical for local and regional development but are not a 'quick fix' solution. They develop over time and are specific to the qualities of particular places. Prof. Tomaney also stresses the relationship between institutions and politics -
...institutions are concerned not merely with establishing the technical conditions for growth but also with the production of social and political values...
Both papers highlight the political nature of regional development and warn against technical solutions which run the risk of losing sight of the importance of democratic legitimacy and accountability in decision-making. At the same time they recognise the limits of traditional 'top-down' or state-centric approaches to regional governance.
30 Jun 2013
Former RSA Chair Professor David Bailey his view on Lord Heseltine's plan for a decentralised English regional funding pot to the tune of £70bn
There’s been a huge ‘Yes Minister style’ scrap going on in Whitehall over the Heseltine Plan for decentralisation, whereby Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) could bid for funding from a ‘single pot’.
Heseltine of course has been highly vocal in arguing for a decentralised pot to the tune of £70bn, and had resisted strenuous Treasury efforts to avoid having to come up with any figure at all, saying that not putting a precise figure on it would signify a major rolling back of his plan. “How can you get 39 LEPs to bid for an invisible pot?” he asked.
And over the last few weeks Hezza has warned that small-beer funding would be a “slap in the face” to business leaders who are spending large amounts of time to the LEPs. The fear is that they could walk away if there’s not serious cash on the LEP table. So all eyes were on this week’s Spending Review to see what figure Osborne came up with.
But the figure that Osborne announced for 2015-16 was tiny – just £2bn. That’s even less than the £3bn expected by commentators, and falls well short of what the Centre for Cities thinktank saw as a minimum need of £5bn a year with more powers for cities to invest in own local economies.
While Slasher Osborne noted that there may be scope for to increase funding in future years, it all leaves the feeling that Hezza had been stymied by Whitehall. Localism loses out. Or as fellow Birmingham Post blogger John Clancy put it on twitter, ‘#WhitehallWins’. As always, it seems.
Osborne has for some time been making out that he is behind Heseltine’s proposals while offering very little in reality, and the Spending Review entrenches that position. And this has anyway all been postponed to 2015/16: in other words it will be the next government which implements – or not – Heseltine’s plans.
In addition to the lack of hard cash, Osborne has also rowed back from either giving LEPs control over infrastructure spending, or job and business support schemes, or even reviewing LEPs’ boundaries and governance structures.
Officially the government keeps up the rhetoric that it is responding to Heseltine positively and that a significant decentralisation is taking place. I doubt it very much. While the government announced they are ‘accepting in full or in part 81 of Lord Heseltine’s 89 recommendations’, the reality is much less encouraging as a detailed examination of Annex A of the Treasury’s response to Heseltine indicates.
As regional papers – including the Birmingham Post - recently revealed, BIS Secretary Vince Cable has made a huge effort to pour several buckets of extra cold water on Hezza’s big plan, arguing that the LEPs don’t have the capacity to handle big amounts of money (all a bit ironic given that it was a Cable-Pickles double act which stymied the LEPs in the first place).
Map of English LEPs - larger version here
But Cable was right in highlighting that giving big piles of public money to unelected LEPs wouldn’t be right. He instead favoured City Deals. They are a good start but in many cases don’t go far enough – including here in Birmingham, which needs more power to invest locally.
Yet this argument over a lack of democratic accountability shouldn’t be used to forestall broader devolution, especially to English cities, Birmingham and the Black Country included. England remains the most centralised state in Western Europe, and will be so even after City Deals are enacted.
Look north, though, and some interesting developments are emerging. In Greater Manchester, Greater Leeds and the North East, new ‘combined authorities’ are being built of cooperating councils which have the legal footing to receive large amounts of public cash and which have some public accountability.
It’s these cooperating councils which offer the potential for channelling public money down to the local level without it just going via LEPs. That’s something local councils here could usefully look at.
According to a recent BIS Select Committee report, the LEPs are characterised by a lack of confidence, confusion and short-termism. Add in the lack of resources for the LEPs that we've just seen in the Spending Review and the question arises as to what they’re really for. What’s the point of them if they have so little in the way of resources?