Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2022
Introducing local and regional economic development
Working to help create jobs and promote well-being at the local level – who could possibly object to that? Well many have, as critics from different perspectives have argued that the activities of local and regional economic development (L&RED) bodies are variously unnecessary, inadequate, ineffective, or even counterproductive. By contrast, there are others who argue that ‘communities carry their future in their own hands’, and that ‘self-help’ is the only assistance cities and regions can expect – and should wish for – within the global economy.
It is in this context that this book sets out to improve our understanding of how local economic development is currently practised in Australia, England, Northern Ireland and the US. The emphasis is on the institutional architecture of L&RED: which organisations do what, where, why, how, and in conjunction with which partners?
The main aims of the book are to:
• map the institutional landscape of L&RED in each country, emphasising how responsibilities are shared across scales of activity, from local, regional and national to supranational;
• examine the different governance structures for delivering L&RED in each country, and the partners with which institutions work;
• outline the main funding systems for local development in each country;
• examine the stated objectives of local and regional development institutions in each country, and the strategies and instruments used to achieve these objectives;
• analyse some of the main differences within each country in how local development activities are conducted;
• provide a critical analysis of the views of practitioners of the most and least effective approaches to economic development in each country; and
• develop an appreciation of the factors which practitioners consider are impediments to greater effectiveness, and of their views on what would increase effectiveness.
In addressing these issues the book provides a unique set of insights into some of the similarities and differences in the way in which local economic development is conceived, perceived and conducted in the four countries. Having a comparative component to the work is important as it helps highlight major differences in approach, which in turn helps in developing a better appreciation of the distinctiveness of each nation's experience. The comparative dimension of the work is also important because it raises some intriguing questions, such as, why is it that a policy approach which is considered mainstream in one jurisdiction may be virtually untried in others?