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AMBS appoints world-renowned regional economist

One of the most highly cited regional economists globally, Professor Philip McCann, has been appointed Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at Alliance Manchester Business School.

He will be based in the Innovation, Management and Policy (IMP) Division and will be a member of The Productivity Institute (TPI). He takes up his post on 1 July this year.

Professor McCann is already the ‘Geography and Place’ theme leader at TPI which is exploring how the productivity differences between leading and lagging places have evolved in the UK, and how this relates to the provision of public services, health and educational outcomes. The research is specifically investigating the reasons for the mixed performance of interventions, comparing them with international practices.

He is currently Professor of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Sheffield Management School, while he is also an Associate Faculty Member at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and an Honorary Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Groningen.

Said Professor McCann: “I am totally delighted to be joining the TPI team at the Alliance Manchester Business School. The recent Levelling Up White Paper demonstrates the centrality of regional productivity challenges in our national economic questions, and joining Manchester will allow my work on these issues to be scaled up even further. It is a very exciting time for me.”


Professor McCann was the Co-Director and Principal Investigator of the Productivity Insights Network+ research programme funded by the ESRC between 2018 and 2021, while he is also a researcher with UK in a Changing Europe, the ESRC Rebuilding Macroeconomics Network, and the Institute for the Future of Work Pissarides Review.

He has also won eight international awards for his scholarship including the 2019 ERSA European Prize in Regional Science, while he has given keynote lectures and plenary talks across the world at institutions such as the European Parliament, the European Commission, the OECD, the UN, and the Federal Reserve of New York, as well as for various UK government ministries.

He has also been a special adviser to two European Commissioners of Regional and Urban Policy, while he has advised four different OECD directorates, and provided advice to many parts of Whitehall, as well as to government and research bodies in various countries.

Professor McCann is also the author of The UK Regional-National Economic Problem: Geography, Globalisation and Governance, the most detailed and comprehensive analysis of the nature and the evolution of the UK’s regional productivity problems.


Bart van Ark, Professor of Productivity Studies and Director of The Productivity Institute, said: “We are very pleased that Philip is joining The Productivity Institute’s headquarters at Alliance Manchester Business School. As former Co-Director of the Productivity Insights network and current lead of the Geography and Place theme, his contributions have already had a distinct impact on the Institute’s activities. We envisage this to be further strengthened with this appointment.”

Professor Fiona Devine, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School, said: “I am very pleased that Philip is joining us at Alliance Manchester Business School. As a world-renowned scholar in urban and regional economics, he will bring considerable experience and expertise to our understanding of variations in productivity across the regions of the UK. Philip brings an international perspective to his research on interventions that can facilitate change. This is so important as politicians and policy makers rightly focus their attention on the huge challenge of reducing stark geographical inequalities across the whole country.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: "Professor Philip McCann is a highly cited and respected regional economist and this is another excellent appointment for TPI. As Philip says, the recent Levelling Up White Paper shows the central importance of tackling regional productivity challenges, and his continued research in this field will be invaluable."