Evaluating a best practice model for an economic development agency
This thesis is concerned with evaluating effectiveness and performance in economic development agencies. Development agencies are typically quasi- public bodies that operate at metropolitan, sub-regional and local scales with the purpose of promoting and realising economic development in their areas. The aim of this thesis is to develop a best practice model for such agencies. The institutions that were studied as part of this project included a wide range of different economic development organisations located in Belfast, Berlin, Glasgow and London. Initially, the thesis discusses the history of economic development activity at sub-national scales in the UK and internationally, and explores the role that such agencies play. Aspects of organisational performance and effectiveness in the context of economic development agencies are further discussed. The research proceeds according to a framework of organisational analysis, describing and analysing the environment that agencies operate in, the most influential characteristics and factors for agency performance, and features of operational design and implementation. The basis for the original research in this thesis is data from a substantial number of qualitative interviews with individuals from development agencies and other interest groups. The thesis argues that there are a wide range of characteristics and factors that contribute to agency effectiveness and performance, and that these have been insufficiently explored in past research. Economic development agencies are also significantly influenced by the environment which they operate in. Overall, it is argued that in order to be successful at their task, economic development agencies need to be truly excellent organisations. This includes developing effective mechanisms for corporate management, staff development, and a market-led rationale for organisational philosophy and action. The concluding chapter of this thesis develops a framework for creating and sustaining excellence in economic development organisations.