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Special Issue: What future for regional policy?

Editors: Harry Garresten, Ron Martin, Philip McCann, and Peter Tyler

The last few years have seen the publication of a range of major international reports which have put the spotlight once again on the underlying logic, the mechanics, and the intended outcomes of regional and local development policy. The impacts of these reports have been reinforced by the general re-thinking and re-questioning amongst policy-makers in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis as to the most appropriate ways forward for best fostering growth and development. At the forefront of these debates have been the World Bank (2009), the European Commission, and the OECD, institutions which have taken rather divergence views on the most appropriate ways forward.

These debates are of interest both analytically and in terms of realpolitik. While on the one hand there is a growing awareness of the role that regions play in aggregate growth, on the other hand it is also clear that regional development issues always involve questions regarding governance decisions and the allocations of public funding. As Barca (2011) explains, the different approaches outlined above actually reflect fundamentally different philosophical understandings of the relationship between market mechanisms, the role and competence of the state, and the role of the community in both shaping and responding to markets and government decisions. Yet, even these various understandings are evolving as the contexts in which discussions about economic growth evolve. Indeed, the nature of economic growth, and the relationship between current policy choices and long run growth, has itself been under the spotlight since the Global Financial Crisis. The OECD has championed an integrated of stronger, cleaner and fairer growth, while the Europe 2020 strategy aims at smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. More recently the US has also adopted a similar line of thinking in its growth strategy, as advocated by a range of authors including Sachs (2011).

Exactly, what these changes in the thinking about regional development policy, the understanding of the relationship between regions and growth, and the evolving context in which growth discussions are framed, will lead to in the long run remain to be seen. New forms of governance may emerge (Hague et al, 2011), new modes of regional competition, and new modes of allocation and funding are all possible. Certainly, the recent decisions on the reforms to Cohesion Policy made by the European Union and the new growth and development agendas in countries as diverse as the US, UK, Brazil, Japan and Australia all suggest that these debates are having real consequences.

This special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society is aimed at furthering our understanding of these issues in terms of policy-thinking, policy-implementation, and the likely outcomes of these policy-decisions. Submissions are invited from any country and on any aspect of these developments, at the regional or urban scale. Priority will be given to papers which deal with emerging topics, new techniques, new institutional arrangements, new and concepts and debates, the use of outcome/results indicators and monitoring, new data and empirics, and which explicitly aim to position the local regional or urban context within a broader context and debate.