Title of PhD: Manufacturing Economic and Regional Resilience: Differentiation and Competitiveness by Design
Supervisor: Professor John Bryson and Dr Julian Clark
Megan Ronayne is undertaking ESRC funded doctoral research to understand the geographical dimensions of manufacturing survival and competitiveness in the UK. This project is part of a much larger research programme that is emphasising the competitive dynamism of manufacturing in the UK and elsewhere.
Manufacturing still matters in the UK, but ‘manufacturing has evolved and our understanding of it has not’ (Livesey, 2006:1). Manufacturers are now inventors, innovators, designers, global supply chain managers and service providers (Livesey, 2006). However, there is limited research on the working practices and procedures of traditional ‘low tech’ manufacturing companies. In the UK, many of these surviving ‘low tech’ manufacturing firms will have been transformed into knowledge-based, design intensive manufacturing businesses. This research project is exploring the economic geographies and competitive dynamics of manufacturing and, specifically, the production of high value added consumer products. The project will explore the ways in which British-owned manufacturing firms are developing, adopting and adapting cutting edge services, products, processes and introducing new methods of working. Issues to be explored include the role design plays in the competitiveness of British manufacturing firms and also constraints on firm performance including skill shortages and hard-to-fill vacancies. This will provide an understanding on long-term survival and competitive strategies of manufacturing firms that have continued to remain profitable and competitive whilst continuing to produce in a high cost developed market economy like the UK.