Evaluating the transition from regional development agencies to local economic partnerships: the views of SMEs in the British West Midlands
2014 (English)In: Local Economy, ISSN 0269-0942, E-ISSN 1470-9325, Vol. 29, no 3, 181-194 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
After the election of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition in 2010, the UK Government instituted a radical reorganisation of governance structures for subnational economic development in England. This involved the abolition of Regional Development Agencies and the introduction of Local Enterprise Partnerships, defined as ‘joint local authority-business bodies brought forward by groups of local authorities to support local economic development across “functional economies”’ (Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 2010: 10). This article contributes to the debate about Local Enterprise Partnerships through an exploration and analysis of the views of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with regard to lessons to be learned from the old Regional Development Agency system and the transition to the new Local Enterprise Partnership system. Empirically, it focuses on the experiences of digital media firms in the West Midlands region (and now in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership). The article draws on desk research and in-depth interviews with Regional Development Agencies and Local Authority employees involved in economic development, industry representatives and business support organisations, in addition to interviews with small and medium enterprise owners and self-employed consultants/freelancers. The research reported here adopted a longitudinal approach with four rounds of interviews between 2010 and 2013. Overall, disruption to publicly funded networks was seen as a significant cost of institutional change between Regional Development Agencies and Local Enterprise Partnerships. Valued functions of the Regional Development Agency were its role in increasing the visibility and coherence of the digital media sector and supporting networking. However, the SMEs reported considerable uncertainty regarding the role of the Local Enterprise Partnership and were concerned about the loss of well-functioning programmes and institutional support structures.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 29, no 3, 181-194 p.
digital media, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Regional Development Agencies, West Midlands
Social and Economic Geography
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107832DOI: 10.1177/0269094214528773OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-107832DiVA: diva2:750785