FE Research

Academic research for the Foundational Economy

Policy

Foundational economy: delivery plan (2021).

Welsh Government.  

Latest policy interventions to strengthen the Welsh foundational economy. Including a Challenge Fund to support novel approaches to tackle issues within the foundational economy, opportunities from procurement reform and actions regarding parts of the Welsh foundational economy; construction, food, social care and afforestation.  

Access Welsh Government’s foundational economy delivery plan

Community wealth building

Community wealth building is an approach to economic development aimed at changing the way that economies function so that more wealth and opportunity is retained for local people. In this way, its approach is similar to practitioners working within the foundational economy, with their focus on grounded, local firms. Community wealth building has been used successfully in Preston – known as the ‘Preston Model’ and is increasingly being used by The Scottish Government.  

Community wealth building webpage.

CLES. 

Access the community wealth building webpage

Community wealth building: a history (podcast) (2021).

CLES. 

Listen to the community wealth building history podcast

What is the Preston Model? (2022).

Preston City Council.  

Read the article from Preston City Council on the Preston Model

How we built community wealth in Preston: achievements and lessons (2019).

CLES and Preston City Council.  

Read the publication from CLES and Preston City Council on how they built community wealth in Preston

Place-based studies

Small towns, big issues: aligning business models, organisation, imagination (2021).

Luca Calafati, Julie Froud, Colin Haslam, Sukhdev Johal and Karel Williams. Foundational Economy Research for Welsh Government’s Home and Places Division and Education and Public Services Group

Download the paper from Foundational Economy Research on aligning business models, organisation and imagination

The business potential of the foundational economy in the south Wales valleys (2020).

Bevan Foundation.  

A report, funded by Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund, drawing lessons from interviews with businesses of the foundational economy across three communities in the south Wales valleys – Cwmafan, Treharris and Treherbert. Authors conclude that across all communities, there are businesses with potential to grow from micro and small businesses into successful SMEs. The authors argue that, given the types of businesses that exist in the south Wales valleys, developing the foundational economy requires a different approach to past economic measures. They suggest support tailored and targeted to micro businesses, with more effective communication between business, support services, local and Welsh Government and addressing the lack of availability for premises suitable for expansion including conversion of empty properties. A sister report published by the Bevan Foundation, Consumer spending in the foundational economy (2021), Lloyd Jones looks at the foundational economy within the same communities but from the perspective of the consumer. 

Download the paper from the Bevan Foundation on the business potential of the foundational economy in the south Wales valleys

Download the sister report from the Began Foundation on consumer spending in the foundational economy

Enabling renewal: future education and building better citizenship, occupations and business communities in Wales (2020).

John Buchanan, Julie Froud, Mark Lang, Caroline Lloyd, Bruce Smith and Karel Williams. foundational economy.com for ColegauCymru 

Download the paper from foundationaleconomy.com on future education and building better citizenship, occupations and business communities in Wales

How an ordinary place works: understanding Morriston (2019).

Luca Calafati, Jill Ebrey, Julie Froud, Colin Haslam, Sukhdev Johal and Karel Williams. foundational economy.com 

Research aiming to understand how Morriston, Swansea works to deliver well-being to the people who live there. Authors argue that this well-being depends on the functioning of foundational services and that understanding a place using metrics of well-being, rather than traditional economic metrics, can support new policy to tackle to liveability issues that truly matter to citizens. In this vein, the authors provide policy ideas for a town plan to revitalise Morriston’s social infrastructure.   

Download the paper on foundationaleconomy.com on how an ordinary place works: understanding Morriston

Business support and fair work

A better balance: business support for the foundational economy (2021).

Jack Watkins. The Institute of Welsh Affairs and Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales.  

A review of business support policy and practice of Business Wales, the Development Bank of Wales and Welsh Government and opportunities for changes to better support the foundational economy – ensuring grounded Welsh firms can receive necessary support to supply high quality everyday goods and services. Authors find that current support has positive impacts however only reaches a minority of Welsh firms, because it is often targeted at high-growth firms and particular sectors. Thus, the current support currently does not effectively support micro-firms to become successful and sustainable SMEs – a key part of a healthy foundational economy. Authors suggest measures for policy makers could take to make business support work for the foundational economy better.  

Download the paper from The Institute of Welsh Affairs and Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales on business support for the foundational economy

Fair work in the foundational economy: what should be done (2021).

Victoria Winckler. Bevan Foundation.   

A report bringing together key findings from work previously published by the Bevan Foundation on experiences of working within some sectors of the foundational economy and an international review of promising policy and practice to approaches to fair work. It shows that work in the foundational economy is often of low quality including low pay and low hours, highlighting a need to improve terms and conditions. Drawing lessons from the international review, the report makes recommendations for a range of actors including policy makers, local government, Business Wales and the Development Bank for Wales to support fair work within the foundational economy.  Authors use The Fair Work Commission in Wales’ components of fair work; fair reward, employee voice and collective representation, security and flexibility, opportunity for access, growth and progression, safe healthy and inclusive work and that legal rights are respected and given substantive effect.  

Download the paper from the Bevan Foundation on fair work in the foundational economy

Fair work in the foundational economy: key data (2021).

Anne Green and Paul Sissons. Bevan Foundation.  

Download the report from the Bevan Foundation for key data on fair work in the foundational economy

The impact of regulation in the foundational economy (2021).

Jack Watkins and The Means. The Institute of Welsh Affairs, Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales and The Means.  

An outline of the effect of current regulations and their enforcement on Welsh small and medium firms of the foundational economy. Authors use interviews with business owners in construction, social care, food and manufacturing demonstrating confusion over rules, the complexity of overlapping requirements and overly rigid enforcement. The report outlines how regulation and enforcement can disproportionately impact small and medium sized business, causing difficulty for new businesses to be successful. Authors make a series of recommendations for regulatory bodies, including Welsh Government and local authorities to help support small and medium sized businesses of the foundational economy.  

Download the paper from the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Centre of Regeneration Excellence Wales and The Means on the impact of regulation in the foundational economy

What can Welsh Government do to increase the number of grounded SME firms in food processing and distribution? (2021).

Andrew Bowman, Julie Froud, Colin Haslam, Sukhdev Johal, Kevin Morgan and Karel Williams. Foundational Economy Research.   

An analysis of the Welsh food system from field to fork and the business models of SMEs which form a part of this system, with recommendations on a range of coordinated policies to secure and increase the number of grounded Welsh SMEs processing and distributing food. Authors define a Welsh grounded SME as an SME which is independently owned in Wales with a high proportion of assets in Wales. Authors argue specific policies are required for the specific characteristics of every food system, including Wales. They put forward a number of priorities to move forward; one, engage supermarket chains in a greater effort to recruit Welsh SME suppliers, two, effectively use public procurement to create demand side opportunity and finally maintain and consolidate infrastructures to support Welsh food SMEs. 

Download the paper from Foundational Economy Research on what the Welsh Government can do to increase the number of grounded SME firms in food processing and distributing

A low carbon economy 

Turning rhetoric into reality: decarbonising the foundational economy (2022).

Jack Watkins. The Institute of Welsh Affairs and Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales.  

A look at the effect of decarbonisation on the Welsh economy (including parts of the foundational economy) and the potential for disruption and unemployment. The authors highlight the lack of understanding within certain industries of their future within a net zero world and consider different approaches to support them, including increasing vocational education and for more powers to be transferred to local authorities to help them respond to their local opportunities and encourage stronger relationships with local business. The report also considers if Wales’s performance in research and innovation may limit the ability of new Welsh firms to benefit from the opportunities stemming from net zero commitments.  

Download the paper from IWA on Turning Rhetoric into Reality: Decarbonising the Foundational Economy

Serious about green? Building a Welsh wood economy through co-ordination (2020)

Luca Calafati, Julie Froud, Colin Haslam, Sukhdev Johal and Karel Williams. Foundational Economy Research Limited for Woodknowledge Wales.  

Work arguing for the need to develop the ‘foundational economy 2.0’; the provision of goods and services for everyday life which also safeguard the well-being of future generations, for example through the substitution of steel, cement and fossil fuels for wood and renewable energy. The report focusses on developing the wood economy of Wales, providing ways which afforestation and the creation of high value timber products such as timer framed housing could be increased. The report draws lessons from The Republic of Ireland and Scotland who have successfully managed afforestation and processing high value timber products.  

Download the paper from Foundational Economy Research on building a Welsh wood economy through co-ordination

Renewable energy in the foundational economy (2020)

Bevan Foundation and RWE Renewables.  

Download the paper from the Bevan Foundation on Renewable energy in the foundational economy

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