chapter  2
33 Pages

Regional competitiveness and local economic development

Over any period of time some places enjoy higher levels of economic growth than others. An interpretation is that these differences in economic success refl ect how some places are more competitive than others. This may merely be taken to imply that that some regions have a disproportionate share of successful enterprises and that business success helps to maintain the supply of resources needed for business expansion such as labour and business service infrastructure. Contrary to this restricted interpretation the idea has grown that regional economies are more than an aggregation of individual enterprises; this implies that qualities of the region as a whole augment the resources of its component fi rms in a unique or at least distinctive way. In this sense it is possible to envisage that places compete with each other at the same time that individual enterprises are competing with one another. This extension of the application of competitiveness to places remains controversial but it has been used to strengthen the case for and the scope of local economic development action. Competitiveness is understandably a much sought after attribute but it remains an elusive concept, especially when applied to groups of people and organizations defi ned in territorial terms (Begg 2002).