The public value of urban local authority collaboration as economic development policy: the role of institutions

Christie, Linda (2018) The public value of urban local authority collaboration as economic development policy: the role of institutions. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The thesis aims to understand: what constitutes urban collaboration and its relationship with policy outcomes? The research develops a conceptual understanding of the public value (PV) (Bardach, 1998; Moore, 1995, Smith, 2004) of Urban Local Authority Collaboration (ULAC) as economic development policy, relative to three theoretical domains in the literature: economic collaboration (i.e. new/old institutional economics: Ostrom 1990, 2016; Williamson, 2000); spatial collaboration (i.e. institutional economic geography: Ostrom, 2010; Gerber, 2015; Tarko and Aligica, 2012), and governance collaboration (i.e. collective action theory: Hulst and van Monfort, 2012; Feiock, 2008, 2013). Theoretically, the ‘institution’ (Amin, 2001; Jessop, 2001; Williamson, 2000; Aligica and Boettke, 2009; Gertler, 2010) is a distinct conceptual dimension connecting the theoretical literature, bridging scholarly boundaries across compatible ontological insights (Bathelt and Gluckler, 2003; and Hay, 2011).
A conceptual framework is developed to help understand: a) what ULAC looks like; b) how ULAC creates PV and, c) why institutions explain the PV of ULAC. A purposeful single case study of ULAC (i.e. the Scottish Cities Alliance (SCA): a formalised institutional policy network involving seven Urban Local Authorities (ULAs) and the Scottish Government) involved collecting data using semi-structured interviews, secondary data, policy documentation and non-participant observation. The emergence of the SCA as economic development policy in Scotland – conducive to an institutionally sensitive theoretical approach – presents a valuable opportunity to contribute towards an empirical and theoretical understanding of ULAC. Using template analysis, findings emerged through process-tracing, sense-making and thick narrative descriptions to reveal aggregate dimensions and second-order themes and first-order concepts. The thesis responds to calls for in-depth case study research of the way local government collaboration operates and performs (Hulst and Montfort, 2012), engaging with the ‘fuzzy’(Markhusen, 2003) concepts and processes of ‘urban collaboration’, ‘policy outcomes’ and ‘institutions’ to reveal a lack of empirical and conceptual understanding of how ULAC operates: particularly the role of ‘urban’ institutional context as a ‘key actor attribute’ (Hulst and van Monfort, 2012: 139). Using a critical realist ontology (Jessop, 2005), the research is best suited to Stake’s (2005) interpretive methodological approach to contextualised theorising, using the SCA in Scotland to investigate the ‘contextualised’ Institutional context, to help inductively conceptualise the PV of ULAC as economic development policy. Whilst conscious of the risks of methodological and conceptual ‘stretching’ (Stubbs, 2005: 71) , the research uses Scotland as a case study to conceptualise the more generic, abstract features of ULAC as a ‘theoretically vague’ term that may ‘travel’ (Stubbs, 2005: 71). The results validate a realist perspective of the theoretical role of formal and informal institutions shaping the contextual path dependant nature of the PV of ULAC. The methodological contribution of the thesis highlights how a new evolving model of economic and spatial governance in Scotland, presents potential challenges for the future delivery of urban policy and practice in Scotland, before closing with a discussion of research limitations and recommendations for areas of future academic research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Institutions, network governance, urban collaboration, policy outcomes.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School
Supervisor's Name: Docherty, Prof. Iain
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Mrs Linda Christie
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30885
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 09:44
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2018 09:48
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/30885

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