Our coffee breaks with researchers aim to
spread knowledge about regional development and innovation. By sending a camera around the world, we present
you with different angles and insights on the topic. We ask researchers directly and in a personal
manner about their work. We want to make scientific knowledge accessible
to all. Hi, welcome to coffee break with researchers,
today, I’m having a coffee break with Stuart Dawley. He is the Head of Geography and Senior Lecturer
in Economic Geography at the Center for Urban and Regional Development Studies, CURDS, at
Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. Hello Stuart, thank you for accepting my invitation
to a coffee break, how are you doing? I’m very well, thank you. Today, I’m having a Colombian black coffee. Which coffee are you having? Black filtered. I’m interested in a paper of yours, which
is about how leading firms can be attracted and embedded in regions in order to promote
regional development. Could you please tell me what the paper was
about? Yes, sure, so what we were looking at is this
idea within the global production network literature that regional development is a
dynamic process in regional development, because when the strategic needs of these big global
production network through which our global economies increasingly organized now, so it
comes the supply chain around, in which you have big dominant lead firms and their organizational
activities, ever more spread across markets and production sites. Regional development occurs when the strategic
needs of the global production networks locate particular regional assets, in particular
places, which can be valorized to create regional development. What our paper try to do, is to look in more
detail at this idea of strategic coupling, when the networks and their strategic needs
work together in harmony, upon particular regional assets. Crucially is understanding what regions can
do, to try to improve their chances of attracting in these strategic coupling investments. In particular, what we tried to do as well
is just readdress the balance in the literature, which today has been very firm-centered, so
the regional or the strategic coupling are very much driven by the strategic needs of
these global production networks, seeking out new locations. What we also want to do is actually looking
at what the regions are doing in what and what strategies regions have, so actually
reach out and hold the networks in to create this sort of investment opportunities. In particular, it can mean the grow of new
industries, the grow of new paths form in cities and regions. And what is this strategic agency?, what kind
of recommendations can you provide? Strategic agency in many ways is, quite often
can be, quite political in terms of establishing some form of alignment between the policy
initiatives and often the political channels, that connect the regional scale with the national
scale. So, in the Hamburg region, for example, we
realized that the degree of alignment which was developed between the vision of the local
coalition of actors, that developed throughout the Hamburg region, and how that aligned with
national and industrial policy was really important. So, in terms of thinking about the policy
implications, it is to try and think through the levels of alignment, in terms of mathematic
alignment, in terms of sector alignment, for promotion, but also in terms of alignment
with broader policies, so the local and regional actors are connecting to almost the flow in
political support at the national level. We also realized that in the Hamburg case,
the local authorities in the Humbold region were able to access sites, quite strategically,
practical and political agency, due to the fact that they have quite few politicians
with national level influence to have lot constituences, in the Humbold, I think the
political side to attract the investment is often overlooked so, that came through as
well. Another key finding that we realized as well
was that the coupling process of attracting in investors into a particular region doesn’t
happen overnight. It is an often is, a proactive process, what
we saw in the example of Siemmens coming to the Humbold region is that, having chosen
the Humbold region as its main prefer site, it took it further three years for the actual
investment to be full confirmed and that was because the national goverment in the UK changed,
the energy market policy became less generous, there was unceirtanty in the long term, vision
for siemmens in terms of the options to a new market, so therefore, Siemmens became
to reconsider their investment and commitment to hold, and for those three years what we
saw was that regional institutions can be very adaptable, very flexible, very responsive
to actually broken and secure what was the understanding of this investment to happen. This is a very fascinating paper, could you
please summarize your findings. Because we were trying to take more seriously
the sort of strategic agency that the regions can bring to this strategic coupling process,
we tried to unpack in more detail what the literature calls, regional institutions, and
these are the actors, the policy initiatives, and the role of the state across national,
regional and local level, so institutional organizations that are doing the work of trying
to attract strategic investments from the global production networks. And within the literature, the global production
literature, specially around G 2.0 the regional institutional analytical category can a cohesive,
multi-scaler understanding of what regional institutions are and those include cities,
regions, local authorities, institutional actors, organizations, promoting economic
development, but also include nation states and super national agency bodies, and what
we think is what is called the multiscaler understanding in some ways is repressing the
scale of politics, institutional context that are involved in this kind of actors working
across these different scales, what our researchers try to do is take one example of strategic
coupling and in this case is the development of industrial path and the Homburg region
of the UK around wind in which we looked and tried to understand the role of the regional
institutions that play in attracting in, which was Siemmens the largest wing manufacturer
in the world to come in develop a blade manufacturing facility in the Humbold. We unpacked that broader regional institutional
category, that is what in the literature looked more specifically in the role of different
institutions, actors and policies, organizations at different levels, either local, national,
and actually trying to understand their roles in a bit more differently nuanced to get this
strategic agency they had and trying to attract in more investors. This is a very detailed project, so I imagine
this must have a very important personal motivation, could you please tell me which was it? yeah,
there is two levels of personal motivation I think, conceptually we have been very interested
in parallel set of debates, theoretical contributions in evolutionary economic geography that looks
at path creation and within that transplantation within is a key mechanism of path creation,
and I think what we tried to do was think through some of the links between that set
of literature and the global production networks literature in terms of this idea of strategic
coupling and I mobilize myself there to we also have
written a similar paper that tries more specifically to connect GP and strategic coupling with
evolutionary economic geography and path creation literature, so conceptually that was one motivation,
secondly, I had a very personal motivation in that region in question, which was that
it was able to secure an investment, is the region where I am from, and it is the region
that has struggled economically since the decline of its maritime industries so I was
quite motivated personally to try and understand how and why the Humbold region had been successful
in securing this path of growth of show wind. Thank you for this insightful chat, it was
really nice to have you here in my coffee break, I wish you all the best for your future
research and I hope to see you soon again, good bye. Thank you, bye. Thank you for watching, if you are interested
in more details about this research, find here the link to the academic publication. Thank you and see you next time, bye-bye.