Although recent academic debates have shown the importance of leadership to promote local economic development (LED) processes, this literature is often based on the experience of cities and regions of the Global North. In this chapter, we argue that to analyse the relationship between leadership and LED in Latin American small cities and peripheral regions, inclusion and, therefore, inclusive leadership, should be a central concept. We propose a notion of inclusive leadership based on two predicates: a) the importance of including populations that have been historically marginalized from positions of power; and b) that the goal of leadership should be the promotion of social justice by changing the unequal power relations that characterize the political economy of different geographical contexts. We then highlight five key political economy elements that characterize Latin American smaller cities and peripheral regions: 1) violence, extractivism and illegal economies; 2) unequal gender, race and class dynamics; 3) the development contradictions of biocultural diversity; 4) the fragility of governance; and 5) the transformative potential of innovation. In doing so, the chapter seeks to push place-based leadership studies beyond its traditional focus on the institutional contexts of the Global North and to provide a guiding framework to improve the conditions for inclusive leadership to emerge and consolidate in small cities and peripheral regions in Latin America.
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