Local economic development agencies and place-based development: Evidence from South Africa

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Abstract

Local economic development agencies (LEDAs) are increasingly important actors in place-based local economic development particularly in the global South. In South Africa there has been an expanded role for LEDAs in terms of the policy significance of local economic development. Although considerable research has been undertaken concerning the merits, challenges and contributions of LED in South Africa only limited material is available concerning the institutional and organisational arrangements to support the implementation of LED. Using policy documents, close engagement with the key national policy-making government departments and a national survey of the activities, operational challenges, and institutional constraints facing LEDAs, the findings from this investigation provide new insight into their role in place-based development. From the unfolding South African experience the strategic establishment of LEDAs potentially can contribute to maximizing the efficiency of place-based strategies. Arguably, key findings confirm the important contribution that LEDAs can make to locality development in the global South albeit that contribution is influenced by context realities.

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