Public-private partnership and the politics of economic regeneration in Sheffield c.1985-1991
The thesis examines the emergence and operation of public-private partnership for economic regeneration in Sheffield since c1985. The argument advanced is that changes in approach to economic policy over this period were part of a process of economic and political restructuring and fragmentation in the local state. The original contribution of this research is that it offers a detailed insight into one aspect of this process - the development of local economic policy that drew on a range of institutional and individual actors, producing both formal and informal mechanisms for articulating this approach. The co-operative framework that emerged was one which allowed the local authority a key position in the mediation of local interests, but that also magnified business input into local economic policy. This framework produced a politics that was about how the partners established co-operation, sought to resolve conflicts, and develop a consensus package for the city's regeneration. Acknowledging the emergence of a system of fragmented government suggests the need to tie together some general theoretical insights about the process of restructuring with the experience of change in particular places. Several perspectives are considered, but the thesis focuses on local corporatism, growth coalition and regime theory. The thesis suggests that despite some limitations, coalition and regime theory are useful for developing our understanding of partnership in Sheffield. The thesis is divided into two main sections. Firstly, it discusses some theoretical and interpretive issues within the literature on local government restructuring. Secondly, the thesis analyses the empirical investigation into the development and operation of the partnership in what was its formative stage. It considers why cooperation developed around the issue of economic regeneration, how such co-operation worked in practice, and the degree to which it represented a realignment in the structures and mechanisms for coping with urban economic change.