Growth through good governance
It is easy to see the pursuit of economic growth in this country as a battle between bureaucracy and innovation, with innovative businesses being stifled by the dead hand of central and local government. But when significant amounts of public money are at stake – and when the impacts on local communities of business decisions are potentially profound – there is a strong pull from politicians that such accountability must exist, in some form.
The concept of good governance will look different to different groups of people and, hence, to the Boards of institutions like LEPs, which exist to development policies and strategies on economic development at local level. These differing expectations, and differing perceptions about what good governance should look like, has provoked a debate about accountability which has tended to focus on structures rather than – as it should – on the culture of the organisations involved and the way in which they work together, and with others, to achieve the outcomes they need to.
To understand the positive contribution that governance can make, we first need to understand what effective economic development policy looks like, and then what can act as a brake on the ability of government to manage it.