NOTTINGHAM BUSINESS SCHOOL PHD SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME 2014 (Entry in MAY 2015) 7 Tuition Fees Funded PhD scholarships available SCHOOL: BUSINESS PROJECT TITLE: Proximity and Procurement: Agglomeration, Governance and Technological Relatedness in the East Midlands Rail Cluster PROJECT LEAD: Professor David Smith Project Description Industrial policy in the UK has been characterised by an unresolved tension between those who advocate the need to build on areas of national or local competitive advantage in order to promote resilience or competitiveness (Martin 2005) and those who advocate market based policy prescriptions. Adherents of the former have generally favoured policy initiatives that share a concern for identifying industry sector strengths that can be targeted for support and development by the state. However industrial sectors are not evenly distributed across space, providing local economies with unique and specific strengths and weaknesses. Hence there is a need to be sensitive to the wider regional context (Bristow, 2010), given the inter-linkages between nearby local economies (Fingleton et al., 2012). There also has to be a clear understanding of the linkages between industries present in particular localities. For example, the theories associated with clusters (Porter, 1990, 1998; Martin and Sunley, 2011) and related diversity (Frenken and Boschma, 2007; Dawley et al., 2010; Asheim et al., 2011), help to understand how resident industries may generate positive economic outcomes in the present, but also how they may provide the adaptability required for the future. This in turn creates significant challenges for local policy makers in the sphere of economic development. In this context the agglomeration of rail industry firms in the East Midlands region of the UK is particularly interesting. It appears to exhibit many of the characteristics of a hub-and-spoke cluster (Markusen (1996) with one large firm, the train maker Bombardier, and many smaller firms providing a range of specialist suppliers and service providers. Not only that, technological relatedness (Boschma and Frenken, 2012) is also much in evidence with many rail suppliers also supplying the aerospace and automotive sectors. These features go some way to explain some of the paradoxes surrounding the cluster. One of the most significant surrounds the issue of procurement and the multi-level nature of governance in the rail sector’s supply chain. This is manifest in procurement decisions where at one level governance is focused on national policy and national issues through major rail contracts like Thameslink and CrossRail, while actual procurement decisions within the supply chain are focused on lower levels especially firms operating on a regional and local basis. The East Midlands rail cluster is also a product of past history which saw Derby emerge during the nineteenth century as the first and the foremost centre of the rail industry in the UK. It has also been profoundly affected by the recent past, in particular the dramatic changes affecting the rail industry in the period following rail privatization in the 1990s (Shaw, 2000), which saw large parts of the rail sector returned to the private sector. The hiatus that followed rail privatization saw the loss of significant rail manufacturing capacity, while at the same time the privatization of British Rail’s maintenance and support services led to the growth of new private sector service businesses serving the rail sector. Rapid growth of passenger traffic in the last decade, combined with innovations in the light rail and high speed rail sectors, the latter centred on major projects like HS2, mean that significant expansion of the rail sector in the UK is projected. One of the principal aims of this research will be to explore the implications of these developments for the rail sector through a case study of the East Midlands rail cluster. The principal objectives of the study are; • To map the East Midlands rail cluster • To analyse the governance structure of the rail sector supply chain and the implications for cluster development • To analyse the impact of developments (e.g. procurement changes and lean manufacturing) in other high tech sectors on the rail sector • To assess the implications of technological relatedness inherent in the rail supply chain in terms of the resilience and adaptability of the rail cluster The study will be primarily based on qualitative research, especially elite interviews with managers of rail industry suppliers, train operating companies and transport policymakers, together with analysis of documentary sources in particular the EMDA archive which is now available through NTU’s iRep facility. CONTACT For informal enquiries about this project, please contact: Professor David Smith: [email protected] This project has been selected for consideration for a Business School Scholarship (fees-only) at Nottingham Trent University for entry in 2015/16. Full details of the projects and the competition are available at: http://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/graduate_school/studentships/index.html For information on entry requirements including English Language, details of the award, and how to apply, please see the School information sheet. The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on 28 November 2014.
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