Phase two of Scotland fellows announced

With a referendum on Scottish Independence due to be held in 2014, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has appointed two new fellows and one new Centre who will undertake research that will inform the debate in the run-up to the referendum.

The fellows and the Centre will join seven existing fellows as part of a wider programme of work addressing issues around the Future of Scotland and the UK.

The research will provide evidence and analysis across the broad range of issues and policy areas affected by the Scottish independence debate and the longer term future of the UK and Scotland. It will assist in planning across a wide range of areas which will be affected by the outcome of the vote, such as culture and identity, business intelligence and fiscal and monetary policy.

The first of the newly appointed fellows is Professor James Mitchell from the University of Edinburgh, who will begin his six month fellowship on the 1st September 2013. His work will look at the implications of the referendum on the governance of the rest of the UK as well as on the local governance in Scotland.

"The debate on Scotland's constitutional future has significant implications for the rest of the UK", says Professor Mitchell.

"While there has been considerable interest in these issues in Scotland, the implications for the rest of the UK have tended, at best, to focus on a narrow band of issues. There is a need, therefore, to broaden out discussion and to reach out to other parts of the UK to help inform understandings of the wider issues involved."

The second fellow to be appointed is Professor Brad Mackay from the University of Edinburgh. He will investigate how the constitutional and political uncertainty surrounding the future of Scotland is influencing business decision making.

"The uncertainties caused by a referendum vote on Scottish independence may influence any number of business decisions, such as whether to invest, re-invest, expand, withdraw, locate or relocate business activity within or outside Scotland and the United Kingdom," Professor Mackay says.

During his fellowship Professor Mackay will interview 60 senior business leaders in medium and large companies from across a range of strategically important sectors and industries operating in Scotland.

Also to be funded is the new Scottish Centre for Constitutional Change. The centre consists of a consortium of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde universities as well as the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. Led by Professor Michael Keating, it will analyse the longer-term evolution of the Scottish economy and investigate its ability to face future economic, social, demographic and political challenges.

"The Scottish referendum of 2014 presents a unique opportunity to examine the process of constitutional change and its impact on institutions, relationships, behaviour and the policy process," says Professor Keating.

"Our centre will focus on two sets of questions: options for constitutional change and their implications, and the response of citizens and social and economic actors to the prospects of change and to change itself."

The Fellows will also act as champions for the social sciences, promoting the importance of social science research in addressing current and future issues in relation to possible Scottish independence.

ESRC Chief Executive Professor Paul Boyle comments:

"The consequences of the outcome of the vote will be significant. The process of preparation is also, in itself, likely to have impact. It’s crucial that the best possible independent research evidence should be available to inform those who need it, such as Scottish voters, and individuals and organisations inside and outside Scotland who are making decisions which may be affected by the vote process and outcome. The ESRC is uniquely placed to provide such high-quality, research-based, and independent evidence to inform the debate, both before and after the vote".

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.

Susie Watts  
Email:   susie.watts@esrc.ac.uk  
Telephone: 01793 413119

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

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We are the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. We support independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. At any one time we support over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. We are a non-departmental public body established by Royal Charter in 1965 and receive most of our funding through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Our research is vigorous and authoritative, as we support independent, high-quality, relevant social science.

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