ESRC invests £11 million to tackle productivity puzzle

Gears and icons with connection lines with a man touching the interface in the background

Researchers are closer to unravelling some of the complex reasons behind the UK’s stagnant productivity, thanks to a new £11 million research investment.

Seven research projects will each tackle specific aspects of the so-called productivity puzzle.

The findings will help policymakers and businesses take the steps necessary to improve productivity and raise living standards across the UK.

Focusing on under-researched topics

The projects will focus on under-researched topics in relation to improving productivity, including:

  • diversity
  • net zero and the green economy
  • financial markets
  • mental health
  • wages.

They are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) via UK Research and Innovation’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

The research will:

  • investigate the role of low quality, insecure jobs on inequality and low productivity
  • explore the economic effects of diverse teams and workplaces on entrepreneurship and innovation in firms and productivity in the UK
  • build a picture of the problems that small firms face accessing investment capital and increasing their productivity
  • investigate how industry can respond to environmental challenges by being innovative and potentially changing business models.

Understanding the issues

ESRC’s Interim Executive Chair, Professor Alison Park, said:

UK productivity levels have been poor by international standards and have stagnated in recent years.

Funding research to understand the issues driving low productivity continues to be of paramount importance to the Economic and Social Research Council.

So we are delighted to be able to fund seven projects that will delve into the reasons behind the UK’s stagnating productivity and provide evidence to help boost productivity and improve people’s living standards.

Expanding our research portfolio in this way could ultimately improve the lives of millions of people in the UK, as it is addressing arguably the UK’s biggest economic challenge.

Complementing existing research

The projects start in April 2022 and will each run for three years.

The projects complement ESRC’s existing portfolio of funded productivity research, which includes:

* These figures are 80% full economic cost (ESRC contribution).

Top image:  Credit: Anawat_s, iStock via Getty Images

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.