- Useful Friends in high Places. How do Party-Networks steer urban economic Development Policies?    click here to open paper content58 kb
by    Marchand, Koenraad | koenraad.marchand@vub.ac.be   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Bridging a complex governance context is one of the crucial roles of political parties. By comparing party-networks on the one hand and planning instruments on the other, we hope to get a better grip on the way they steer their local economy.
Useful friends in high places . How do party-networks steer urban economic development policies ?

The case of the Socialist Party in Gent (B) and Liège (B).
The starting point for this research project is that, as the macro-economic settings in the EU adjust and more competences (like environment, education, spatial planning) devolve to the regions, the competition between European cities in Europe increases. In terms of this new economic development, most scholars agree that the 21st century will be the era of cities. In consequence, urban governments are confronted with the need to conduct economic policies.
In this project we study the way cities act for steering the local economy and the institutional setting in which this happens. This institutional setting can only be understood if cities are seen as part of a complex set of interacting levels, all having some competences on economic policy. The study will concentrate on political parties and agencies for local economic development. Both, agencies and political parties, have to be studied in a multi-level governance environment. In this paper we will focus on the institutional setting of the local leading political parties. Bridging the governance levels is one of the crucial roles of political parties. But can the way they do also explain the way in which choices at urban level are made ? On the one hand, being part of a strong network guarantees “useful friends in high places” and enlarges the potential policy space which local councillors will be able to use. On the other hand, a tight network might leave less room for autonomous action by the local council. By comparing the way that leading party-networks are involved in the urban economic development policies in Gent and Liège on one hand and the characteristics of the implemented policy-instruments on the other, we hope to get a better grip on this issue.
party-network, urban economic development, policy instruments
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