National Productivity Week 27th January 2025 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


The UK Productivity-Governance Puzzle: Are the UK’s Governing Institutions Fit for Purpose in the 21st Century?

This research strand examines the ways in which UK governance institutions have changed over the last forty years. It critically engages with the nature and balance in central-local governing arrangements, asking whether the latter has the appropriate tools and resources to effectively integrate key policy responsibilities/resources in ways that would allow it to tackle particular local/regional or national productivity puzzles.

This is a key element of the Institutions and Governance theme and focuses on the principal claim that improvements in UK productivity are constrained, in part, by a range of governance pathologies: overcentralised decision-making; top-downism; short-termism; siloised policy-making; and the absence of effective joined-up government. It suggests that an essential element of tackling economic inequalities and uneven/low productivity requires the reform of an over-dominant centre, in conjunction with the development of a coherent, stable and adequately resourced institutional approach to local and regional government and to the devolved nations.

The project looks at how central government mitigates against the tackling of regional productivity; in particular, how the Treasury’s focus on financial control and macro-economic policy means that the variegated needs of localities and the particular requirements of regions are not properly accounted for.

Hence a key contention of the project is that regions do not have the means to develop integrated training and transport infrastructure necessary to tackle their particular productivity problems. The focus on a market driven trade and finance macro-economic policy has prevented the development of a locally based productivity drive adapted to the particular needs of regions.

Project leads Dave Richards, Andy Westwood (The University of Manchester), Michael Kenny (University of Cambridge), Patrick Diamond (Queen Mary University of London)

Collaborator Jack Newman (The University of Manchester)

The University of Manchester

University Of Cambridge