University of Cambridge > > Land Economy Departmental Seminar Series > Tagliaferri Lecture - Geography, Globalisation and Governance: The UK Regional (and National) Economic Problem

Tagliaferri Lecture - Geography, Globalisation and Governance: The UK Regional (and National) Economic Problem

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The interregional economic unequalities within the UK are now the highest in the industrialised world on many different indicators. UK interregional inequalities are longstanding, but the recent surge in these is largely unprecedented during the last century The lecture will discuss the evolution of UK interregional inequalities over many decades, but with a particular focus on the last three decades of modern globalisation.

These changes have been wrought by largely external factors – related to modern globalisation. These changes are so large and so fundamental, but in the UK they are also little understood, instead being dominated by political and media-led narratives. In particular the role of London as an engine of UK economic growth is somewhat overplayed, while the importance of Europe across the UK regions is underplayed.

At the same time, in terms of regional issues, on many levels the UK has not responded to modern globalisation as well as many of our competitor countries, and there are various reasons for this.

The lecture will argue that a significant part of the reason for this is that the existing UK governance systems – including both formal and informal systems – have been very ill-suited to responding to the challenges at hand. At the same time, an examination of empirics demonstrates that many UK policy narratives are shown to have been based on very weak academic arguments. Statistical significance and significance are quite different things, and these weak arguments have poorly-shaped many policy responses.

Recent UK developments in spatial policy and policy-thinking regarding governance devolution and connectivity are examined in the light of the international arguments and evidence. The strengths and weakness of the current national-regional and city-region deveolution policy trajectories are examined and suggestions for future options are also discussed.


Philip McCann holds the University of Groningen Endowed Chair of Economic Geography. He is one of the world’s most highly cited urban and regional economists, and also acts as an advisor to the European Commission, OECD , and the European Investment Bank, along with government departments and research institutes in various countries.

The Department of Land Economy is very grateful to Mark Tagliaferri, whose generosity has funded the lecture and the visiting fellowship.

This talk is part of the Land Economy Departmental Seminar Series series.

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