Over the last few years economists have started to look at the ‘real world’ problems in a different manner. While traditional economics tries to model economical problems, a new set of academics have been proposing different approaches to studying economics. Heterodox approaches to economics are often related to perspectives that include sociology, geography, institutions and anthropology. However, although these approaches may provide a more complete understanding of the economic world, they are often based on the analysis of non-traditional variables.
Given that these approaches are relatively recent, there are still an enormous amount of issues that need investigation. However, given the nature of this topic, one of the most complicated processes in researching economics is data collection. This may be the most difficult step in conducting a dissertation in one of these topics. Although some topics may use quantitative data, their results are usually rather limited. Nonetheless, once the data collection period is overcome, there is a fruitful ground for very interesting research.
A number of suggestions for economics dissertation topics are provided throughout this article. In most cases, these topics can be applied to a specific region and/or industry.
2.0 Economic geography
This branch of literature relates the role of places with economical action. However, economic geography is not only confined to the relationship between economies and the physical space. Within regions and localities, there are great dynamics that shape the nature and extent of economic activity. Take a look at some suggestions for economics dissertations on economic geography:
- How can local culture shape entrepreneurial action regarding the different approaches to business?
- Can entrepreneurial attitude be exported? The role of emigrants in introducing new entrepreneurial attitudes.
- Is there a place for social reputation and competition in business in certain areas?
- Differences of entrepreneurial behaviour in rural and urban areas.
- What is the role of local culture in traditional (mature sectors) operating in small towns?
- The role of local culture in promoting regional innovation networks.
- What factors facilitate knowledge transference in a specific area?
- The ‘lock-in’ effect of a local cluster. The case of (a region)
- Local policy to support local clusters: opportunities.
- How can policy support the creation of a local cluster?
- Are networks affected by local proximity? Differences between co-localised and dispersed networks.
- The contribution of the European regional policy in shaping places in the UK.
- Where are the top 50 IT firms located in the UK? What are the reasons behind this?
- What is causing regional divergence? An analysis to the richest and poorest regions in the UK.
3.0 Economic sociology
Economic sociology refers to sociological aspects influencing the economics of firms and their relationships. This branch of literature explores how private and professional relationships interact, affecting business. Possible topics for your economics dissertation in this area include:
- The role of social networks in supporting innovation activities.
- What is the role of family in funding the start up of firms?
- The private network as the facilitator of the firm start-up.
- Is trust and power any different in local productive systems?
- The evolution of the role of family in British traditional sectors.
- Can cultural mix increase productivity in creative industries? Evidence from UK.
- The role of social capital in rural places in the UK.
- Is social capital a critical factor in the British creative industries?
- Can the university network contribute to entrepreneurial action?
- Social entrepreneurship in the UK.
4.0 Institutional economics
Institutions are a set of norms and values shared and accepted by everyone in the society. If it is clear that these norms impact on the way people live their lives, it is also important to determine the nature and extent of business relationships. Institutional economics is still in an emergent stage, and therefore there are a large number of research opportunities. Some of the following may be help you come up with an economics dissertation topic:
- How do habits and routines affect the productivity? The case of (an industry)
- How does the culture mix impact on the organisation of firms in the UK?
- Is there a role for bureaucracy in UK productivity?
- Efficiency in the property market in the UK: An institutional perspective.
- Transaction costs and economic development.
- A resource-based theory analysis to firm co-operation.
- How can transaction costs economics account for inter-firm collaboration?
- Ownership and control in the UK: An institutional analysis.
- A characterisation of the British manager and investors: What are the differences?
- How does job experience relate to entrepreneurship? Evidence from the UK.
- Educational aspects of entrepreneurship. The role of formal school in promoting entrepreneurial capacities in the UK.
- Latent entrepreneurship: UK vs Europe
Microeconomics studies the behaviour of economic agents at an individual level, as much as the study of markets. The main focus of microeconomics is on the behaviour of consumers and firms.
- The evolution of consumption in the UK over the last 10 years: Trends in consumer behaviour.
- Are mergers related to productivity in UK firms?
- Opportunities for the UK competition policy
- Are British oligopolistic markets really oligopolistic? Searching evidence of strategic interdependence.
- Can the dominant firm model be applied to the furniture retail industry in the UK?
- Conditions for the existence of a knowledge firm. Facilitators of knowledge creation within the firm.
- Characteristics of the innovative organisation in the UK.
- Are innovative firms in the UK more innovative than in Europe?
- The impact of the European regional policy on British small and medium enterprises (SME’s)
- The energy market in the UK: A microeconomic approach.
- The impact of regulation in British industries: The case study of (an industry).
- Does size affect firm profits? Evidence from manufacturing firms in the UK.
Macroeconomics provides a more general perspective of economies, by studying economic aggregates, such as families and consumption, governments, interest rates and exchange rates. A major field of research is monetary economics and economic policy.
- How do interest rates affect consumption in the UK?
- What is the role of the dollar evolution in British spending?
- Magnitude of the impact of oil price changes in the levels of British consumption.
- How EU interest rates are related to the UK interest rates?
- Salary inequalities in the UK regions: the forces behind.
- The relationship between the salary levels and economic convergence between UK regions.
- The evolution of regional convergence in the UK: Periods of transition.
- The evolution of the exchange rates in UK. Causes and consequences.
- The impact of the common agriculture policy (CAP) in British agriculture.
- Economic growth and productivity. The UK in the century transition.
- Interest rates and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the UK: Searching for a relationship.
- UK monetary policy over the last 30 years.
- Consumption, growth and interest rates in the UK.
- Does inflation affect firms’ profits in the UK?
- Unemployment and regional mobility of labour in the UK.
- Unemployment and labour regulation in the UK
- What are the differences between European and British unemployment?
- Economic growth and unemployment: Is there a relationship in the UK?
- The macroeconomics of SMEs entrepreneurship in the UK.
7.0 Regional Development
This discipline looks at the dynamics of regions as a smaller economy, as much as to the relationships between regions. There is a component of economic growth and development at a regional level. The suggestions below will give you further ideas for your economics dissertation:
- Is profit related to regional development? What is the relationship?
- The contribution of solid entrepreneurial networks for regional development.
- Regional development policy in the UK
- Infrastructures and regional development. How can the rail and road network explain the differences in the development of regions in the UK?
- Economic positive externalities and regional development.
- Learning, knowledge and innovation in regional development.
- Location theories and their contribution to the understanding of regional development.
- The firm start-up and regional development: more new firms or better old ones?
- The role of technology in regional development: where is technology concentrated in the UK?
- Public investment and regional output: Evidence from the UK regions.
- Regional institutions and development: How to search for a link?
- Regional aspects of entrepreneurship in the UK.
- Entrepreneurship and unemployment: the British relationship.
8.0 Employment Economics
Employment and unemployment are important issues in the study of economics. Economic and social perspectives are important for society, as employment not only affects people’s finances, but also their relationship with society. Moreover, labour is also an important productive resource, and therefore there are implications for corporate efficiency and productivity. Economics dissertations on employment economics could include:
- Job creation and destruction in the UK.
- Local pools on unemployment in the UK: Looking for similarities.
- Factors determining self-employment in the UK.
- The effects of minimum wages on British employment.
- How does technological innovation affect British unemployment? Evidence from the manufacturing industries,
- The demand for labour: similarities and differences in the demand of skilled and non-skilled labour in the UK.
- A comparison of self-employment across Europe: Where does the UK stand?
- Government policies in support of self-employment: Evidence from the UK.
- The effects of immigration on British employment and productivity.
- How does professional training affect British employment?
9.0 Financial Economics
Financial markets are very important in the context of modern economies. There is a very close relationship with macroeconomics since they may determinate the economic wealth of a country. Here are some topics on financial economics for your economics dissertation:
- Investment and cash flow in the UK: the nature and strength of the relationship.
- How is the FTSE affected by interest rates?
- Does CAPM apply to stocks listed in the FTSE 100?
- How does the behaviour of the FSTE 100 affect economic growth?
- Behavioural finance: A study on the motivation of British investors.
- The determinants of corporate debt in the UK.
- The role of private equity and debt market in the finances of SMEs in the UK.
- Do SMEs achieve higher profitability rates than large corporations in the UK?
- The financial structure of British firms: A comparison with Europe
- Financial markets and financial intermediation in the UK.
- Temporary and permanent components of asset prices in the UK.
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