Champion, Katherine M.
The difference that place makes: a case study of selected
creative industry sectors in Greater Manchester.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Broader transformations in the economy are linked to a changing spatial organisation for economic activity, particularly in industries imbued with a high creative content, although there are competing explanations regarding the nature of this logic. This thesis explores the
ways in which space and place matter to the creative industries sector. In particular, it examines the logic guiding concentration in the centre as opposed to decentralisation to more peripheral sites within a transforming regional city negotiating its place in the
knowledge economy. There has been a significant policy thrust from formerly industrial cities to build a share in this sector, often touted as a panacea for urban decline, but critical evidence regarding the possibilities for this is hard to find.
The research employs a mixed methods approach, which is applied to the case study of Greater Manchester. The study firstly probes the spatial pattern of creative industry activity there and selected two sectors with a somewhat different distribution: advertising, and film and television. Contextual information is gathered from a range of documentary evidence. Semi-structured interviews with 28 firms and 18 policymakers and other stakeholders are
used to probe the determinants affecting the decisions regarding firm location.
Three dominant determinants of location were identified by the research: the availability
and cost of space, place reputation and transport connectivity. The empirical findings further suggested that there were a set of firm characteristics guiding location choices relating to the size, profile, age and activities of the firms. It was found that the city centre still provided a considerable pull related to traditional agglomeration advantages, including access to skilled labour and strong transport connectivity, as well as a sense of place brand. Location outside the city centre was chiefly prompted by the cost and size of business premises or was made possible by the place reputation advantages not holding for more routine, less growth-orientated or locally-focused firms. The study also identified evidence of displacement and industrial gentrification and the recent regeneration of the city centre had exacerbated these processes. There was some divergence from the existing literature regarding the importance of proximity for knowledge sharing and spillovers, for which little evidence was found by the interviews.
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