Applications are invited from highly motivated PhD candidates to undertake a three-month internship to gather and assess evidence as part of a Productivity Insights Network research project on systems approaches to productivity in Northern Ireland. The successful intern will work closely with members of the Productivity Insights Network (PIN), which is an initiative funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The intern will also work closely with principals at the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy. The key aims of this project are to develop a path-breaking process for understanding the productivity puzzle in the context of the Northern Ireland Economy 2030 Industrial Strategy and a working model of a mapping process that can be used in other contexts.
As policy makers grapple with the productivity puzzle, the underlying challenge remains that issue-led approaches continue to prevail in relation to what is a systems-based issue. For political and practical reasons, the most common approach to productivity involves making assumptions, advancing simplified models, and breaking this complex policy problem into what are perceived as its constituent parts. This project argues that the productivity puzzle stems from the failure of this siloed policy model to represent and accommodate interdependencies (see Vorley and Nelles 2019).
Methodologically, the project consists of three phases to which to internship will contribute. First, a literature review of the state of the art of complex adaptive systems mapping in policy analysis will provide a background document for our partners and stakeholders to anchor discussions in the third phase. The second phase involves a discourse analysis of the Economy 2030 Industrial Strategy and its source documents (to be obtained with the cooperation of the Department for Economy) to highlight latent interdependencies between thematic areas. The third phase will explore the implications of the results of the discourse analysis through a series of focus groups and workshops with government partners and stakeholders.
Through this project the intern will have exposure to the development and application of innovative methods and the opportunity to interact with and influence public policy directions of project partners in the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to participate in relevant PIN events for the duration of the internship.