Localism, Regeneration and Renaissance
: An exploration of the factors that enable and inhibit place-based partnerships

  • Catherine Broadhurst

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

England has experienced perpetual difficulty in establishing a durable level of governance between central and local government to direct economic growth. The abolition of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in favour of 38 voluntary Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) alongside the construction of a growing number of Combined Authorities makes for a complex place-based economic landscape. Although a number of studies have examined LEPs, they have tended to focus on their early development. There has not been a strong focus on the factors that underpin their effectiveness, and this is compounded by the lack of formal guidance. This thesis addresses that gap to explore whether there are common factors that enable (and inhibit) LEPs to provide the vision and strategic leadership to drive sustainable private sector-led growth and job creation in their area.

The research applies a Soft Systems Methodology as a learning tool to a new area of social science, successfully demonstrating the usefulness of this methodology to the field. A synthesis of the literature on economic ecosystems and partnership collaboration was undertaken to propose a conceptual model of place-based partnerships comprising six factors that was further developed and authenticated through an empirical study of the LEPs. The findings offer validation of the model but also reveal wider micro and macro isomorphic forces at play. The persistence of centralism in the English context is evident which limits the LEPs’ capacity to fill the missing space between central and local government and as relatively new structures, the LEPs are being hampered by these dominant and enduring forms of governance.

The study reinforces the evidence that conditional localism endures in England placing these sub-national partnerships in a weak position of dependency on central and locally established governance institutions to function and achieve legitimacy. It concludes with a refined version of the model, termed the Compass of Collaboration, that addresses the gap in knowledge as to the factors that support these place-based partnerships. The unique model, validated by policy makers and practitioners, offers an original, robust and supportive tool for the leaders of place-based partnerships. The Compass enhances understanding of how the LEPs might achieve path-breaking behaviour. By applying a shared local vision and values the LEP can then chart a path towards a more transformative local industrial strategy that fosters economic growth that counters the mimetic and coercive forces of central and local government. Beyond the LEPs, given the global trend of decentralisation towards place-based industrial strategies, further research into the conceptual model is encouraged to support the development of place-based partnerships.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorClive Winters (Supervisor), Nigel Berkeley (Supervisor) & Jennifer Ferreira (Supervisor)

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