Centre for Economic Performance 2020-25

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Centre for Economic Performance


The Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) studies the determinants of economic performance at the level of the individual, the firm, the community, the city and region, the nation and the global economy. In a technologically turbulent world where the longstanding trend of global integration may be reversing, CEP's research will confront two major economic and social questions: how to improve economic performance and how to share the gains from greater prosperity more effectively. These issues affect us all - at home, at work, in our schools and public services, and in our local communities - as well as being crucial for businesses and governments, locally, nationally and internationally.

How can economic performance be improved without worsening inequality? It is vital to study the key drivers of both, including technology, skills, institutions, globalisation and policy. To do this we have put together an ambitious research agenda of inter-related projects across six work programmes (growth, trade, education, labour, urban and community wellbeing). We want our research on these critical questions to be world class, published in the best academic journals and to have wide-ranging impact.

We view part of our leadership role as an Institute to be setting the framework for thought and for our work to define what further research is needed to respond to social and economic shocks. The new Institute work programme will help to address the big issues facing the UK, including austerity, the legacy of the financial crisis and Brexit. It will tackle key economic and social issues by providing robust evidence and policy advice on questions such as: the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on workers and firms; trade policy design in a post-Brexit UK; the impact of policing on crime; and the consequences of the rising market power of global firms for competition, innovation and inequality.

Many of the research challenges to be tackled - such as poor economic performance, high and rising inequality, poor basic skills and low social mobility - were issues long before the financial crisis, the new US protectionism and the vote to leave the EU. We plan to further our understanding of the basic economic forces at work, using new methods and data and drawing on the latest social science developments. We need to provide robust evidence on how the economy functions in order to understand dysfunction, and how to craft policies to rectify these problems.

Making an impact is core to our mission. We want to inform public debate in a 'post-truth' world that is increasingly vulnerable to fake news. Effective communication is an integral part of our impact strategy. CEP will continue to use a range of tailored communication and outreach activities. But we recognise that achieving impact requires more than just effective dissemination. We will therefore prioritise activities with more senior leadership aimed at increasing the visibility and impact of our research and events, deepening our policy and media networks, and extending our collaborations and partnerships. As an ESRC Institute, we plan to continue our record of building capacity for the social sciences and offer broad leadership to researchers and non-academics in the study of economic performance and policy in the UK and internationally. Themed workshop series open to early career researchers and others open to the entire academic community working in cognate areas, will be organised jointly with specific partners such as IFS and CAGE with key sessions recorded and made available online. We will also run events with a diversity of users, practitioners and places.

CEP has shown it can deliver world-class research and impact. Core funding from ESRC has played a crucial role in attracting matched co-funding from elsewhere. The new ESRC Institute status provides a great opportunity to build on this record.

Planned Impact

We aim to influence and improve public debate and policy-making at the local, national and international levels. Our target audiences are academics, policy-makers in central (civil servants, MPs) and local government (e.g. local authorities, devolved nations), international organisations, businesses, practitioners (e.g. teachers and health service professionals), think tanks, NGOs, the UK and international media, and the general public.

We will work directly with policy-makers on several projects including with researchers from the OECD, EBRD, Banque de France, Banca d'Italia and the IMF. We also work directly with statistical agencies (e.g. ONS) to help improve their databases and collection efforts and to generate new data sets.

Engagement with businesses often takes the form of partnerships whereby we jointly develop a research agenda, the business offers confidential access to its data or freely donated expertise. Following on from progress in the last proposal, we intend to continue to work directly with business on several projects (e.g. CognitionX and Capital Enterprise for an RCT on adopting new technology).

We will partner with charities and other organisations mostly by co-branding and disseminating work through their organisations, often as a non-technical report.

Effective communication is an integral part of achieving impact. CEP will continue to use a range of tailored communication and outreach activities to achieve our impact objectives.

Our tailored publications will include:
Briefings: Non-technical publications based around policy debates including policy bulletins and non-partisan election analysis on major areas of public interest.
CentrePiece: CEP's magazine, established in 1996 and published three times a year, collects research findings from our work, which Centre members rewrite in non-technical style.
Books & Reports: We will seek to maximise impact by drawing together lines of research in seminal books and reports.

We will produce engaging online content:
Website: Our website is being fully redesigned to be topic based and to enable a range of users to find content appropriate to their expertise by searching content rapidly and instantly accessing all types of output for each topic.
Blogs: We will continue our policy of translating findings into blogposts and distributing these to a range of other blogsites such as Vox EU, UK in a Changing Europe, LSE Business Review which considerably widen the reach of CEP findings.
Twitter: Social media will also play a key role in communicating all our activities.
Graphical content and videos: We will produce graphical content, such as infographics, which evidence suggests are an effective means of communicating our messages to diverse audiences.

We will organise events for multiple audiences:
Public events: To promote its work beyond academia, CEP will continue to run public events, public lectures, debates and conferences and book launches.
30th anniversary events: We will organize a range of activities in autumn 2020 to celebrate the CEP's 30th anniversary and to highlight our new institute status.
Programme weeks: We will encourage all programmes to organise programme weeks - concentrated activity around a conference or other event.
Early careers conferences: We will encourage all programmes to develop 'early careers conferences' organized by, and aimed at, early careers researchers.

Further details on these activities, how they are supported and managed, are provided in the Pathways to Impact attachment.


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