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Does light touch cluster policy work? Evaluating the tech city programme

Nathan, M; (2021) Does light touch cluster policy work? Evaluating the tech city programme. Research Policy , Article 104138. 10.1016/j.respol.2020.104138. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Cluster policies are popular with policymakers, but we know surprisingly little about their effectiveness. This paper evaluates the causal impact of a flagship UK technology cluster programme that uses ‘light touch’, market-orientated interventions. I build a simple framework and identify effects using synthetic controls plus placebo tests to handle programme endogeneity concerns. I implement this design on rich workplace-level microdata from the Business Structure Database, alongside a range of other administrative sources. I explore mechanisms through further tests for timing, cross-space variation, scaling and churn. The policy grew and densified the cluster, but has much weaker, partial effects on tech firm performance. I also find most policy ‘effects’ began before rollout, raising questions about the programme's added value. More careful policy design could make future interventions more effective.

Type: Article
Title: Does light touch cluster policy work? Evaluating the tech city programme
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2020.104138
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2020.104138
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10111525
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