Reconsidering private sector engagement in subnational economic governance
One consequence of the economic downturn and pressure for public sector reform is a renewed focus upon private sector engagement (PSE) within subnational economic governance. Yet past attempts to promote PSE within urban and regional development policy and governance have been routinely characterised by the partial and uneven involvement of business interests. Adopting a strategic–relational approach, and building upon insights from the developing literature on business–society relations, this paper critically examines how PSE unfolded in a specific spatial and temporal context, through empirical investigation of the evolution of the City Growth Strategy as realised within two areas in London. This analysis explores the difference between policy script and business performance and identifies key dimensions of material self-interest, nonmarket-based rationales, and divergent private/public discourses as critical to the selective nature of emergent PSE strategies and tactics. Critically, these issues remain largely unaddressed within current moves to put in place a private sector led subnational agenda, with clear consequences for understanding its likely impact across differentially constituted urban and regional contexts. Keywords: private sector engagement, local/regional economic governance, public–private partnership, strategic–relational approach
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