Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs (LIPSIT)

This research aims to identify institutional and organisational arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the 'good' management of policy trade-offs associated with increasing productivity, and to make recommendations to policymakers based on this.

These trade-offs are between three objectives which form the basis for targets in Local Economic Plans and Industrial Strategies in the UK:

  • increasing productivity and productivity growth rates ('productivity')
  • sharing prosperity more widely ('inclusivity')
  • shifting to a low carbon economy that does not damage the environment ('sustainability')

Trade-offs arise because authorities have limited resources and have to prioritise - the problem being that policies to maximise productivity may not maximise inclusivity or sustainability, policies to maximise inclusivity may not maximise sustainability and so on. Trade-off management is 'good' first and foremost when it reduces the need for compromise between the three objectives, or to the extent that compromise is necessary, when it helps regional policymakers understand both the nature of the trade-offs and the likely intended and unintended consequences of interventions, equipping them to better achieve their priorities. 


The objectives of the project include answering the following research questions:

  1. What kinds of local institutional structures concerned with developing and deploying local industrial strategies and improving local productivity, inclusivity and sustainability exist across the UK regions? How do the regional economies compare, now and as they are likely to develop?
  2. What kinds of trade-offs do these organisations consider important and how do they negotiate multiple priorities, particularly when trying to achieve improvements in productivity, inclusivity and sustainability?
  3. What trade-offs between productivity growth, inclusivity and sustainability are actually achieved?
  4. Which regional institutional and organisational arrangements, now or in the past, have tended to produce 'good' management of the trade-offs between productivity growth, inclusivity and sustainability? Regional comparisons in the UK will be supplemented by a targeted search for better practices across regional governance structures in mainland Europe.

It is also an objective of the project to create awareness and encourage discussion of the findings and recommendations amongst a wider group of stakeholders (e.g. CBI, TUC, press), with a view to influencing opinion more broadly. Recommendations will cover:

  1. Changes to the way national and regional policy makers operate within the current system of institutions and organisations
  2. Modest changes to that system that policy makers responsible for the design of the system are likely to accept, and
  3. More radical changes to that system that could be adopted in the future.If policymakers act on these recommendations this will strengthen, and potentially lead to the creation of, institutions that are better able to manage trade-offs relating to improved regional and local productivities.

Project Collaborators

  • We have a number of project partners from the public and private sector, including BEIS Industrial Strategy team, West Midlands Growth Company and the Welsh LGA.

Publications and Reports

Achieving Levelling-Up: The Structures and Processes Needed 
Produced by Charles Seaford (Demos), Ben Glover (Demos), Professor Simon Collinson, Dr Charlotte Hoole, Dr Anastasios Kitsos and Dr Diana Gutierrez Posada (University of Birmingham), Dr Helen Tilley and Dr Ananya Mukherjee (University of Cardiff), Professor Nigel Gilbert and Dr Jack Newman (University of Surrey) and Professor Nigel Driffield (Warwick), November 2020

Prosperity, Inclusivity and Sustainability across UK Regions 
Dr Charlotte Hoole and Professor Simon Collinson, April 2020

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Funder/client: Economic and Social Research Council
Timescale: October 2019 - March 2021


Simon CollinsonProject lead: Simon Collinson
Email: S.Collinson@bham.ac.uk

Project Website

Project support contact details

Dr Charlotte Hoole

Email: c.hoole@bham.ac.uk