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The Great Divide: Economic Development Theory Versus Practice—A Survey of the Current Landscape


  • Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

    () (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

  • Kevin Stolarick

    (University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)


As a scholarly field, economic development is a theoretical exploration with very real implications for place. As a practice, economic development is an essential component of local policy and governing and a perceived driver of success and vitality for cities and regions alike. The notable distinction between practice and theory may explain the lack of scholarly consensus and the ambiguity in effectiveness of the practice of development. Using a three-tiered approach, we undertake a comparative analysis of the way in which practitioners and scholars undertake economic development. Through a study of Economic Development Quarterly journal keywords and a review of nine cities' economic development initiatives, we assess the most frequent topics and initiatives within the discipline. Using the International Economic Development Council best practice awards, we look at what is generally viewed as “successful.” We conclude with an assessment of the general development landscape, considering implications to our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Currid-Halkett & Kevin Stolarick, 2011. "The Great Divide: Economic Development Theory Versus Practice—A Survey of the Current Landscape," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 25(2), pages 143-157, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ecdequ:v:25:y:2011:i:2:p:143-157

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    Cited by:

    1. J. G. Sri Ranjith, 2015. "The Effect of Microenterprises on Poverty: A Cross-county Analysis on US Urban Poverty," International Journal of Economics and Empirical Research (IJEER), The Economics and Social Development Organization (TESDO), vol. 3(3), pages 128-150, March.
    2. Hatcher, William & Oyer, Matt & Gallardo, Roberto, 2011. "The Creative Class and Economic Development as Practiced in the Rural U.S. South: An Exploratory Survey of Economic Development Professionals," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 41(2,3), pages 139-159, Fall, Win.
    3. Mellander, Charlotta & Stolarick, Kevin & Lobo, José, 2014. "Distinguishing Neighborhood and Workplace Effects on Individual Productivity: Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 386, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.


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