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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2022

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Summary

This book reports on the findings of a survey sent to local and regional economic development (L&RED) organisations in Australia, England, Northern Ireland and the US. The aim of the survey, and of this research, was to shed light on the nature of L&RED in each country, to draw out both the common and divergent elements in the practice of L&RED across nations.

This book has been written against the backdrop of a burgeoning academic interest in L&RED and an equally explosive growth in policies, programmes and organisations directed at encouraging the growth of regions, cities and localities. Whole schools of academic thought have centred themselves on describing, analysing and theorising the emergence of local and regional development. Despite this growing academic concern, relatively little attention has been paid to cross-national comparisons. While there have been notable exceptions (Halkier et al, 1998; McNiven and Plumstead, 1998; OECD, 2001), there has been no systematic attention given to the differences and similarities in L&RED across nations. This absence is particularly puzzling given the substantial policy transfers between nations, particularly among English-speaking nations, and within the European Union. There is no doubt that the absence of a substantial body of comparative work reflects a number of factors. Much of the academic writing on L&RED comes out of either the UK or the US and national concerns arise first and foremost within that literature. Policyfocused research tends to be undertaken with funding from national or subnational governments and almost inevitably the funding bodies are primarily interested in developments within their jurisdiction, not what is happening in another policy environment. Also, we need to acknowledge that systematic cross-national research is difficult and fraught with all sorts of methodological challenges. As will be discussed later in the book, even within the four nations covered in this book – which have very similar cultures and a common language – there are very substantial differences in their understandings of the terms ‘local’ and ‘regional’. Perhaps for this reason, much of the comparative literature that has been published to date has been based on a series of case studies.

This book presents a comparative perspective on L&RED within four English-speaking nations. Through the survey we have been able to develop measures that allow the reader to compare the objectives, activities and partnerships of English L&RED organisations with those in Australia, Northern Ireland and the US.

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Developing Locally
An International Comparison of Local and Regional Economic Development
, pp. ix - xi
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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