The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is delighted to announce the establishment of the Productivity Insights Network from January 2018. 

The new network will assess the state of productivity research in the UK; improving our understanding of the factors affecting our productivity and informing the development of new strategies and research. 
As well as providing leadership and being a forum for collaboration, the network will: 

  • pull together interdisciplinary research groups and other networks in academia, policymaking and business
  • promote the use of innovative methods
  • develop a series of small-scale studies
  • complement (and collaborate with) existing research agendas, whether or not they are ESRC-funded
  • contribute to policy development
  • run small scale competitions to allocate funding to academics outside of the network to undertake relevant projects. 

The Productivity Insights Network will be led by Professors Philip McCann and Tim Vorley of Sheffield University Management School. They will lead a total of nine universities: University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, University of Strathclyde, Durham University, University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Leeds and University of Essex.

The network will also benefit from the involvement of two private sector collaborators - Cambridge Econometrics and SQW Ltd. The wider Productivity Insights Network has a membership of over 50 academics as well as a growing number of public, private and third sector partners.

Professor Tim Vorley said: "Productivity is arguably the most pressing economic challenge facing the UK, with productivity growth having been slow since the late-2000s and the gap growing compared to other countries. Despite being a political priority, the productivity puzzle continues to frustrate economists and policymakers. The aim of the Productivity Insights Network is to rethink the productivity issues facing the UK and to develop new insights that challenge conventional views."

Professor Philip McCann said: "Over the next three years the Productivity Insights Network will provide a unique opportunity to make more sense of the UK productivity puzzle by advancing new interdisciplinary insights as well as how the puzzle can be addressed. The Productivity Insights Network will provide the government with a deeper understanding of the main causes of low productivity in the UK and how to stimulate productivity growth to make the biggest impact."

Dr Annie Gibney, Senior Portfolio Manager in charge of ESRC's productivity priority commented: "As a community of social scientists we must work hard to crack the UK's productivity puzzle of exceptionally weak growth when compared to international competitors. We hope this new network will do wonderful work to help improve our understanding of productivity, and take us a step further towards sustainable and inclusive economic growth."