Business Economics and Policy

The Business Economics and Policy Group at the Birmingham Business School has a long and distinguished history, going right back to the establishment of the Faculty of Commerce in 1902, widely seen as the first Business School in the UK.

Notable figures in pioneering and developing the study of Business Economics and Policy at Birmingham over the last 120 years have included: Sir William Ashley (whose 1914 work The Economic Organisation of England is still widely read); Sargent Florence (who made major advances in the empirical analysis of the location of firms in his 1953 work The Logic of British and American Industry); the industrial economist Gilbert Walker (who helped to create one of the first centres of modern economics in the UK); Stephen Littlechild, a leading thinker on privatisation and regulation in the 1980s, who designed the ‘RPI-X’ form of regulating utilities*; Roger Sugden (who co-authored with Keith Cowling the seminal volume Transnational Monopoly Capitalism); Eileen Marshall, the first Deputy Director of the Regulator OFFER in 1989; and Jonathan Michie, Director of the Birmingham Business School between 2004 and 2007 (who has written widely on economic issues including the role of mutuals and the economics of sport).

Today the group remains as vibrant as ever. Its history of diversity is reflected, for example, through the current work of Stanley Siebert on labour market participation, Fiona Carmichael on inequality and disability and Lisa De Propris on innovation and industrial policy. 

The group is composed of applied economists who undertake a wide range of cutting-edge teaching and research in the following broad themes, with a strong policy focus:

Work, Well Being and Labour Policy

  • Quality of work, sociology of work and intersections with HRM
  • Well-being, health, inequality and education
  • Labour economics and industrial relations, including employment regulation, skills, labour markets, and the role of trade unions

Industrial and Regional Policy

  • Business and industrial economics including the nature of modern capitalism, globalisation, manufacturing, Brexit, and Industry 4.0
  • Industrial and regional policy - including industrial strategy, takeovers, innovation policy, place-based policy and regional policy
  • Regional economic development and measurement

Trade and Economic Development

  • Offshoring/reshoring, internationalisation strategies of firms, international value chain and productivity
  • Economics of sustainable development, including the role of informality, the nexus between education and development and health and development

Sustainable innovation and policy

  • Industrial ecosystems, competitiveness and innovation, including regional and national innovation systems.
  • Green innovation

Heterodox and Political Economics

  • Feminist Economics
  • Class economics

Group members are active in a number of leading research networks, think tanks and learned societies including the Association for Heterodox Economics, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), the Regional Studies Association, the Royal Economic Society, the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe programme and The Serious Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption Evidence (SOC ACE) Research Programme.

The group publishes widely and a number of journals are edited by group members including Regional Studies and Contemporary Social Science. Group members regularly give evidence to governments and parliaments and frequently appear in national and international media.

Group members

Business, Economics and Policy Staff

*We recognise the contentious nature of Stephen Littlechild’s work on the Tobacco Industry.

Also in 'Management'