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