The first generation of RDAs was established in the 1970s and 80s, but the work of the Regional Studies Research Group was the first major study and evaluation of different working approaches. The notion of ‘model RDAs’ introduced by Halkier and Danson in 1997 stimulated workshops, conferences and presentations to Eurada (The European Association of RDAs).
Stemming from this initial work, subsequent studies have continued to support and provide evidence for policy developments from 2008 onwards. Three specific examples are summarised to illustrate the broad international impact of the research and its influence in the area of regional development.
Pathways to impact
Alongside their academic publications and the specific contributions to policy development outlined below, the researchers have disseminated their findings and recommendations to the policy-making community through a variety of channels, including:
- Three invited presentations by Danson on current themes and debates to the committee responsible for economic develop in the Scottish Parliament.
- The launch in Westminster of the research report and paper (Section 3, reference 7) from work commissioned by the Smith Institute.
- Invitations to make key addresses to the OECD (2011), the Spanish Government (2011), the European Commission (2012), the Krynica Economic Forum (2012)
Policy impact (Mexico): contributing to the OECD Territorial Review, Chihuahua, Mexico, 2012
Professor Danson was an expert member of the team responsible for the OECD Territorial Review of Chihuahua, Mexico. This independent peer review body, which published under the auspices of OECD, carried out research to benchmark the Chihuahua region against peers internationally. The output of a Territorial Review is a formal publication of significant importance internationally.
Applying expertise in clusters and city regions (cf section 3.5) Danson and his colleagues contributed to Section 2.3 of the Review which evaluated multi-level governance in the region. He described and made recommendations about models of governance, RDAs and public-private cooperation
The review process gained extensive and daily coverage on the mass media - TV, radio, papers, and led to invitations for Danson to present seminars in Paris to the OECD and independently to the DATAR and Science Po international research centres, in Tyrol and elsewhere.
Policy impact (Scotland): input to inquiry/review on Scottish Enterprise
The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee of the Scottish Parliament, during its consideration of the 2010-11 budget, raised questions about the purpose of the enterprise network in Scotland and its role in economic development. As part of its inquiry the Committee took evidence from Danson at its 30th Meeting, 2010 (Session 3), on 10 November 2010 [B]. In its final report “A fundamental review of the purpose of an enterprise agency and the success of the recent reforms, 2011” the committee quotes extensively from Danson’s evidence particularly on: the shape of the agencies and their relationship to government; enterprise agencies’ governance arrangements; the external verification of Scottish Enterprise’s impact assessment; and the examples of good practice in economic development arrangements that may be taken from elsewhere. In each of these cases the concluding statement of the Committee reflects the research-informed contribution from Danson to the inquiry.
Policy impact (UK): input to House of Commons Select Committee On Business, Innovation and Skills, 2010
The Committee undertook an inquiry into the proposed New Local Enterprise Partnerships, examining how these new structures would work, alongside issues such as distribution of funding, value for money, accountability, timing, transitional arrangements and required legislation. Danson with colleagues, D Bailey, P Benneworth and H Halkier, co-authored written evidence submitted on behalf of the Regional Studies Association (RSA). The memorandum ‘The New Local Enterprise Partnerships’ drew on current literature and evidence from the UWS research team’s studies regarding the role of Economic Development Agencies (EDAs) and partnerships in delivering economic development at the regional and sub-regional levels. The memorandum commented on the outline proposals for revising English sub-national regional development policies, and listed recommendations about the role and constitution of Local Enterprise Partnerships, their funding and their relationships with central government. In its report, ‘The New Local Enterprise Partnerships: An Initial Assessment’, Select Committee cites the Regional Studies Association contribution to its discussion of, and recommendations for, ensuring the stability of LEPs (paragraph 153).