Working Regions: Rethinking Regional Manufacturing Policy

working regions


The question of how to shape regional policies to incubate, support, and sustain emerging manufacturing technologies and spur job creation has become the subject of extensive debate in the wake of the global recession. This research network, Rethinking Regional Manufacturing Policy, engages scholars studying recent developments in manufacturing policies in advanced industrialized countries including the shift towards comprehensive regional strategies to support advanced manufacturing. In both the US and UK, policymakers are particularly concerned to link research and design functions to local production networks. This goal places new emphasis on regional institutions focused on innovation and technology transfer. In pursuing this goal, policymakers remain attuned to basic determinants of the health of an enhanced manufacturing environment, including property development strategies, brownfield remediation, and human capital development policies. Unfortunately, there exists no fixed map or menu of key institutions and actors. Instead, the composition of regional manufacturing governance networks varies from one region to the next, in terms of both its membership, the thickness of institutional supports, and the scalar organization of governance bodies.

Adequately mapping these regional governance structures is an essential component of understanding the regional and employment outcomes of innovation, as is understanding the sector-wide developments – offshoring, reshoring, supply chain extension, occupational restructuring, the development of additive manufacturing, and growing markets for “urban” and “locally” made products – that determine local manufacturing employment outcomes. This research network focuses on supporting and exchanging research on how public policy at the local and regional scale improves manufacturing resilience, encourages the adoption of new models of production and consumption, and enables the ongoing viability of older industrial cities and regions.

The Research Network connects leading scholars engaged in rethinking manufacturing policy at the regional scale. The network focuses on reconnecting innovation policies and production policies to regional-scale institutions and intermediaries, ranging from research and development infrastructure to labor market intermediaries. The organizers seek to expand on existing collaborations and informal networks using the formal comparative framework offered by the RSA Research Network.


Jennifer Clark