Economic Resilience

Why are some places less affected by economic decline than others? Why do some places recover from an economic shock more quickly than others?  Is it just about their economic structure, or are other factors also at play? These are just some of the questions raised by the current economic crisis and which academics are being asked by both politicians and practitioners.

In seeking to answer these questions we are beginning to think about regions in terms of their overall resilience.  This takes into account their ability to withstand an economic shock, such as the closure of a factory, or the loss of a key market, or more global events such as the financial crisis.  Resilient economies may be ones that are able to withstand that shock, manage to avoid an economic decline, or are able to quickly 'bounce' back from the negative effects of the shock.  This focus on resilience is a shift away from the traditional concentration on growth and competitiveness of the local economy which often marks studies of regional and local economic development.

Our research extends current theorising in evolutionary economics and complex adaptive systems to consider the role of agency and inter-territorial connectivity in shaping resilience outcomes.  Our work also considers the role that sub-national policies can play in building resilience through preparing for and responding to economic shocks.

The Centre is currently leading a major EU funded project examining the economic resilience of regions in the face of economic crises.  Funded by the ESPON research programme it is exploring regional differences in levels of economic resilience, whilst questioning what this means in practice and exploring the factors that underpin differences in performance.

Taking a more conceptual approach is the project 'Territories & Technologies in an Unstable Economy: An evolutionary framework of regional resilience' (T-Res).  Using an evolutionary economic geography approach, the project focuses on the adaptation of EU regions in response to a macroeconomic shock such as the recession.  This project is funded by the ESRC Open Research Area (ORA) from 2011-2014.

For information on this research stream please contact Professor Gillian Bristow.