|European Regional Science Association|
The abstract for paper number 543:
Mike Danson, Economics & Enterprise, University of Paisley
, , United Kingdom
Regional Development Agencies: which model for a small country?
A regional development agency (RDA) is ‘a regionally based, publicly financed institution outside the mainstream of central and local government administration designed to promote economic development’ (Halkier and Danson, 1997. Intervening and interacting with the economy at the most appropriate jurisdictional level (Armstrong, 1997), RDAs can bring substantial resources to bear on problems of local economic development, combining regional, industrial and training policies and resources on specific projects. They represent the manageable ‘bottom-up’ alternative, flexible and receptive to the specific needs of the indigenous industry within the region (Danson, Lloyd and Newlands, 1993). A number of responsibilities which otherwise may be split between different departments or quasi-government agencies - such as the provision of property and sites, the attraction of inward investment, brownfield regeneration, cluster strategies, and urban redevelopment - by being located within a single organisation can reduce costs and realise synergies (Moore and Booth, p.119). Following a Europe-wide survey, a model RDA was defined by Halkier and Danson (1997, p.245) as a body which, first, organisationally is in a semi-autonomous position vis-à-vis its sponsoring political authority; second, supports mainly indigenous firms by means of ‘soft’ policy instruments; and, third, is a multifunctional and integrated agency, the level of which may be determined by the range of policy instruments it uses. Although RDAs have been established across the countries of the OECD, change since then, and enlargement and deepening of the EU in particular, has raised questions over the continuing relevance of this model framework to analyse the RDA. This paper reports on a new survey of RDAs, conducted in association with EURADA, which suggests RDAs are being demerged and disaggregated into smaller bodies with more focused functions, but with a high degree of control over their operations. However, in the Celtic countries, which provided the role models for many RDAs, ever more responsibilities are being accumulated by Scottish Enterprise while there is uncertainty in Ireland. England has latterly established RDAs, with wide ranging powers and responsibilities, but with limited democratic control. These apparent contradictions will be explored in this paper.
Unfortunately full paper has not been submitted.