Handbook of Local and Regional Development
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Handbook of Local and Regional Development

Andy Pike, Andres Rodriguez-Pose, John Tomaney, Andy Pike, Andres Rodriguez-Pose, John Tomaney

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eBook - ePub

Handbook of Local and Regional Development

Andy Pike, Andres Rodriguez-Pose, John Tomaney, Andy Pike, Andres Rodriguez-Pose, John Tomaney

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About This Book

The Handbook of Local and Regional Development provides a comprehensive statement and reference point for local and regional development. The scope of this Handbook's coverage and contributions engages with and reflects upon the politics and policy of how we think about and practise local and regional development, encouraging dialogue across the disciplinary barriers between notions of 'local and regional development' in the Global North and 'development studies' in the Global South.

This Handbook is organized into seven inter-related sections, with an introductory chapter setting out the rationale, aims and structure of the Handbook. Section one situates local and regional development in its global context. Section two establishes the key issues in understanding the principles and values that help us define what is meant by local and regional development. Section three critically reviews the current diversity and variety of conceptual and theoretical approaches to local and regional development. Section four address questions of government and governance. Section five connects critically with the array of contemporary approaches to local and regional development policy. Section six is an explicitly global review of perspectives on local and regional development from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. Section seven provides reflection and discussion of the futures for local and regional development in an international and multidisciplinary context.

With over forty contributions from leading international scholars in the field, this Handbook provides critical reviews and appraisals of current state-of-the-art conceptual and theoretical approaches and future developments in local and regional development.

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A handbook of local and regional development
Andy Pike, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and John Tomaney


The problematic of development regionally and locally sits at a difficult and uneasy conjuncture. Improvement of living conditions, decentralisation, prosperity, wellbeing and life chances for people and places internationally is ever more important in a world of heightened inequalities and inequities and intensifying environmental pressures. Yet powerful social forces are shifting the context and shaping formidable challenges to the understanding, role and purpose of local and regional development. Even before the tumultuous events triggered by the financial crisis at the end of the opening decade of the twenty-first century, numerous assessments already pointed toward the mounting discredit and ineffectiveness of development models nationally, questioned the role of states and other institutions in promoting development and even challenged the purpose and rationale for any form of spatial policy. Doubt was cast too upon the relative weaknesses and inabilities of local and regional agency to influence the profound and transnational challenges of – inter alia – energy and food insecurity, climate change and demographic shifts in the context of globalisation. Other views, however, countered that local and regional development was broadening beyond a narrow focus on the economic to encompass the social and the ecological. They argued too that centralisation provided opportunities to give particular meanings to development and contest prevailing orthodoxies, better tailor policy and resources to local and regional conditions and mobilise latent economic and social potential. Indeed, it was contended that it was regional and local institutions that were especially well placed for constructing and nurturing the collective capacities to adapt to and mitigate constant, far-reaching and disruptive global change. Amidst such differing views in a changing and challenging context, this collection is timely in seeking to take stock and consider current thinking and practice in local and regional development.
Building upon our previous integrative work (Pike et al. 2006, 2007), the genesis of this Handbook lies in an effort to begin more systematically and rigorously to map out the terrain of local and regional development in an international and multi-disciplinary context. The powerful and contradictory currents buffeting, questioning and reinforcing development regionally and locally underline the need for a broadly based collection that attempts to bring together and reflect upon current thinking and provide a reference point for multi-disciplinary and international work in the field. More specifically, the Handbook aims:
i) To provide critical reviews and appraisals of the current state of the art and future development of conceptual and theoretical approaches as well as empirical knowledge and understanding of local and regional development.
ii) To connect and encourage dialogue between the (sub-)disciplinary domains between ‘Local and Regional Development’ in the Global North and ‘Development Studies’ in the Global South through the international outlook and reach of its coverage and contributors.
iii) To engage with and reflect upon the politics and policy of how we think about and practise local and regional development.
To fulfil such aims, contributions have been sought from leading voices concerned with issues of development across the disciplines internationally. We make no claim to any exhaustive comprehensiveness – no doubt other topics, authors, disciplines and/or geographies might have been included – but we have sought to identify and incorporate what we believe are the most important and resonant issues for local and regional development. To frame what follows, this introduction identifies and elaborates three central themes motivating and animating the Handbook: the meanings given to local and regional development in an international and multi-disciplinary context; addressing the tensions between context sensitivity and place in their articulation with universalising, ‘placeless’ concepts, theories and models of local and regional development; and, connecting considerations of development regionally and locally in the global North and South. The organisation of the Handbook is then outlined.

Defining development regionally and locally

The definitions and meanings of development regionally and locally become centrally important when considered in a more international and multi-disciplinary context. The geographical differentiation and change over time in what constitutes ‘local and regional development’ within and between countries are amplified internationally. Changing and contested definitions of development seek to encompass and reflect geographical variation and uneven economic, social, political, cultural and environmental conditions and legacies in different places across the world. The search for any singular, homogenous meaning is further undermined by the socially determined definitions of development that reflect the relationships and articulation of interests amongst social groups and their interpretations and understandings of their predicament. The question of ‘what kind of local and regional development and for whom? (Pike et al. 2007) is deliberated, constructed and articulated in different ways in different places – albeit not necessarily in the conditions of their choosing and with varying degrees and kinds of autonomy for reflective and critical engagements with dominant and prevailing orthodoxies (Gough and Eisenschitz, Cochrane, Gibson-Graham, Lovering, this volume).
Such diversity about what local and regional development means does not, however, imply that we confront a relative, context-dependent concept. Far from it, perceptions of local and regional development across the world share numerous characteristics and a growing sense that “causes and solutions… are increasingly integrated across borders and disciplines, and revolve around common if differently-experienced patterns of change and the capacity to control it” (Edwards 2007: 3). A first such current connecting local and regional development internationally is the shifting and sometimes turbulent context that imparts complexity, inter-dependency, risk, uncertainty and rapidity of change upon any considerations of the development of localities and regions. Adaptation and adaptive capacities in regions and localities have come to the fore in order to cope with the kinds of volatile, far-reaching and profound changes unleashed by global economic challenges and successive regional and local crises – such as the Asian crisis of 1997 and the 2007–8 financial crisis. Such concerns have propelled the rapid emergence of ‘resilience’ as a developmental notion internationally, notwithstanding its conceptual and theoretical weaknesses arising from its heterogenous (sub-)disciplinary origins in Ecology, Economics, Engineering and Geography (Pike et al. 2010). A second and related international current is evident in the broadening of notions of development regionally and locally beyond its longstanding economic and quantitative focus to encompass sustainable social, cultural, political and environmental dimensions and more qualitative, even subjective, concerns about quality of life and wellbeing (see, for example, Cypher and Dietz 2004, Geddes and Newman 1999, Morgan 2004, Pike et al. 2007, Stimson and Stough 2008). In part, this change has been stimulated, first, by the widening of the notions and narrative of sustainability beyond a narrow concern with the state of the physical environment and resources to encompass the economic and the social (Christopherson, Hadjimichalis, Jonas et al., Morgan, this volume). Second, such change has been prompted by the – early stage and perhaps tentative – engagement between ‘Local and Regional Development’ in the global North and the historically broader conceptions and understandings of development within ‘Development Studies’ in the global South (Mohan, this volume). As the shifting context and broadening of local and regional development issues cross international, institutional and disciplinary boundaries at different spatial levels, it prompts some reflection upon our frameworks of understanding and their (sub-)disciplinary roots.
The shifting international context of disruptive and uncertain change, coupled with the widening and intersecting domains of economy, society, environment, polity and culture that impinge upon a broader, more rounded sense of what local and regional development is, means that any single discipline – regardless of its predicament or status – is ill-equipped and perhaps ultimately unable to capture the evolving whole. We see no need, then, to claim or establish disciplinary status for ‘local and regional development’ or its like or the dominance of any singular conceptual and theoretical framework (cf. Rowe 2008). Indeed, we argue that a more fruitful way forward is to recognise that “at the very least…there is no ‘one best way’ to achieve development. No one model should be privileged, nor should any one approach to economic theory” in order to stimulate an ambition to “reimagine growth and development as an inherently thick process, encompassing multiple social processes that can be illuminated differently by insights from different disciplinary fields” (De Paula and Dymski 2005: 14, 11). Local and regional development has such long established multi-and inter-disciplinary roots that reach up and out from especially economics, geography, planning and urban studies (Bingham and Mier 1993) and, we argue below, can extend and intertwine with ‘Development Studies’ in productive ways capable of invigorating our ability to engage with current and future challenges.
Rather than consensus and unifying, singular approaches, an aspiration for dialogue, establishing ‘trading routes’, negotiating ‘bypasses’ and ‘risky intersections’ (Grabher 2006), even contributing to ‘post-disciplinarity’ (Sayer 1999), underpins such multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to local and regional development. Such endeavour may have potential if a meaningful ‘spatial turn’ in broader social science is underway and disciplinary boundaries are genuinely becoming more open and porous. Checks and balances in conceptual and theoretical dialogue emerge in an open context of accountability, analysis, exchange and argument; offering the potential for the diversity of an ‘engaged pluralism’ which is active, inclusive and emancipatory in its intent (Sheppard and Plummer 2007).
Such broad-based and all-encompassing approaches to what local and regional development are are not without problems. Critics may ask what unites local and regional development and gives it coherence in such a plural context? Does such a diverse and varied conceptual and theoretical backdrop allow academics and policymakers simply to pick the theories to suit their interests and justify their interventions? We argue that the stance outlined here need not descend into such a relativist free-for-all. Rather, we see value in approaching local and regional development with multi- and inter-disciplinary insight and in promoting a dialogue aimed at stimulating understanding and explanation of the problematic of development in different local and regional contexts. This stance promotes an appreciation of politics, power relations and practice in multi-level, multi-agent and devolving systems of government and governance. It raises the normative dimensions of value judgements about the kinds of local and regional development we should be pursuing and the adaptation of frameworks in the light of foundational concerns such as accountability, democracy, equity, internationalism and solidarity (Pike et al. 2007, Hadjimichalis and Hudson 2007). This Handbook is our contribution to this agenda and specifically includes new and sometimes contrary contributions from leading voices working internationally in an array of (sub-) disciplinary bases in Community Studies, Development Studies, Economics, Gender Studies, Geography, Planning, Political Science, Social Policy, Sociology and Urban Studies.

Context sensitivity and place

The longstanding and thorny question of how to reconcile the general and the particular remains central to frameworks of understanding and the practices of local and regional development in an international and multi-disciplinary frame. Localities and regions in South Korea, Surinam and Sweden face shared issues and concerns in securing and enhancing livelihoods, prosperity and wellbeing in the context of globalisation, urbanisation and decentralisation processes. But how they address those issues and concerns is mediated by their highly geographically differentiated contexts, which reflect specific and particular growth trajectories, developmental aspirations and strategies, institutional arrangements of government and governance and other broadening dimensions shaping their development paths and strategies. In these circiumstances, the challenge is how we reconcile more general concepts and theories to understand, explain and analyse global development challenges with the need meaningfully to incorporate context and place into the development equation.
An enduring view holds that local and regional development is especially dependent upon context as a consequence of its engagement with social processes in geographically differentiated and uneven spaces and places. In some ways, an inherent reading of context is ingrained in our understandings whereby the “the very nature of local or regional development – where context exerts a pivotal influence – impedes the translation of theory into practice” and shapes decisively policy intervention because of “the important influence context play...

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