Monash University
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The new regionalism and the role of partnerships in regional economic development strategies

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posted on 2017-01-13, 03:50 authored by McDonald, Christopher Scott
Partnerships between business, third sector organizations and communities have become an increasingly important part of government strategies to promote regional economic development. The association between these partnerships and the economic development of regions is at present unclear. There are contrasting views as to whether partnerships build competitive advantage or instead reflect a neoliberal policy agenda of reducing government protection and investment. This debate is centered on agency: the possibilities and limitations of partnerships as a means of promoting regional economic development. This inquiry centres on the following key research question: do partnerships promote regional economic development and if so, who shapes this agency? I use the New Regionalism (NR) as an entry point for my inquiry because it supports an argument that partnerships increase the capacity of social actors to influence regional economic development in the context of a globally competitive economy. I engage critically with the NR and seek to clarify positive and negative views about the role of partnerships in regional economic development. My theoretical framework begins by reviewing the literature about regional development in a globally competitive economy, and identifying which actors have the power to influence outcomes in this context. I then review the literature about partnerships and argue that they enhance collective efficacy and build political capital to influence regional development. Case studies of two regions that have experienced rapid socio-economic change – the East Midlands and Leicestershire in the United Kingdom, and the Cradle Coast region in Tasmania - have been selected. Using interviews and document analysis, I examine the role of partnerships in promoting development within these regions. I contribute to knowledge by finding that these partnerships generate collective efficacy and build political capital, which in turn stimulates value creation and enhancement in these regions. The role of these partnerships is primarily shaped by the constraints of a globally competitive economy and the material interests of local civic and business leaders. I develop a theoretical framework that can help explain the association between partnerships and the economic development of regions.


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Principal supervisor

Andrea Kirk-Brown

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Business and Economics

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