Research themes

Services are integral to the production process. This includes finance, innovation and research and development that makes local producers more competitive in markets that are increasingly national or international. SERU is dedicated to advancing understanding of this vital sector by undertaking basic research with funds from research councils and other bodies, as well as more applied research on behalf of local authorities, government agencies and private sector consultants.

SERU is especially interested in:

Research on intermediate services such as business and professional activities, including:

  • structural, organisational and location characteristics
  • their role as sources of knowledge and expertise that determines the adaptation and competitiveness of other economic activities, cities and regions
  • their impact on the structure of labour markets and occupational structures and the wider social effects
  • their role in international commodity chains

Research on the social and cultural dimensions of the production and consumption of services, including:

  • cultural creative industries
  • retailing
  • e-commerce and the new economy
  • financial exclusion

Regional Foci of Research

The principal focus for SERU research is the advanced economies, notably the UK, Western Europe, North America, South America and Australasia. Recently, the regional focus has expanded to include research that addresses the development of services in emerging regions such as Latin America, the Asia-Pacific and Pacific Rim. This is part of a wider interest in the patterns of global trade and foreign direct investment by service industries.

SERU and International Research Networks

The Group is an active member of the European Research Network on Services and Space (RESER) which facilitates collaboration between research centres and individuals with cognate interests in Belgium, France, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway. Peter Daniels was previously President (1995-97) of the Network and John Bryson is currently on the Council.

The SERU also has good links with service researchers affiliated to the AAG Economic Geography Speciality Group, the North American Regional Science Association, the Mark Twain Institute, the Programme of Research on the Service Economy (PROGRES), and the Applied Services Economic Centre. The Unit is actively collaborating in an international working group on Producer Services in the Asia-Pacific region. This was initially co-ordinated by Monash University, Australia and the University of British Columbia, and was developed further via a Workshop funded by the Peter Wall Centre for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia, early in 2002.

SERU is also actively involved with on-going research projects with colleagues based in the Institute for Research in Economic and Business Administration, Bergen, Norway.

The Unit regularly hosts short- and longer-term visits by overseas scholars interested in undertaking their own research on services or in collaboration with members of the SERU. Enquiries from potential visitors are very welcome.