The Political Economy of Sub-National Economic Development
Chapter 5: Regional Development Agencies
This chapter discusses the emergence of the new regionalism in Britain. Regional Development Agencies were formally established in the English regions in 1999, owe their origins in large part to the impact of the ‘new regionalism’ both in academic discourse and in the transfer of institutional design and policy lessons from successful economies elsewhere. This chapter illustrates the growing policy commitment to the new regionalism in the United Kingdom as British policy-makers have moved from observing with interest developments in successful European regions to attempts to implement their alleged lessons at home. The chapter discusses how RDAs have encountered pressing contradictions. Instead of rationalising the landscape of economic governance, they add a new layer of complexity to an already confused institutional arena. But these weaknesses cannot be attributed to the RDAs alone—they stem from key design faults in the overall structure of this experiment in regional economic governance.
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