Context and Urban and Regional Leadership: Assessing the Influence of Complexity in Institutional Environments and Institutional Arrangements (15777)
Recent research and scholarship have focussed upon the contribution of institutions in driving growth, with Rodriguez-Pose (2013) arguing institutions represent the ‘missing variable’ in explaining why some regions grow and others do not. Studies have shown that institutions are important in building human capital (Murphy & Siedschlag 2013; Pike et al. 2006); creating regional innovation systems (Brenner et al. 2013) and generating intangible assets (Surinach & Moreno 2013). Rodriguez-Pose (2013) observed that institutional structures vary by location and the effectiveness of these arrangements is determined by their quality, rather than their number or ‘thickness’ (Amin & Thrift 1995). He argued that structural factors associated with the institutional environment were relatively unimportant in shaping the development trajectories of individual regions, while factors associated with the the arrangement of institutional processes were much more influential. Other work by Bristow and Healy (2013 and forthcoming) has argued regions can be thought of as complex adaptive systems. Within this framework, the resilience of regions and their prospects for success is determined by first, their governance arrangements; second, the presence and nature of regional policies; and, third, issues associated with the timing and time horizon of policy interventions.
This paper seeks to explore these emerging literatures and the insights they offer to research into urban and regional leadership. Urban or place-based leadership can be considered to be an important component of the adaptive capacity of a region (Sotarauta 2009; Beer & Clower 2014), and the institutional factors that either impede or facilitate its expression will have a critical role in determining regional futures. This paper examines two important dimensions of institutional structure: the institutional environment and the institutional arrangements present at the local scale. Using data drawn from a survey of leaders in Finland and Australia, the paper sets out to disentangle the impact of structural factors from more fluid social processes in shaping the emergence and impact of regional leaders. The paper uses survey data to examine the ways urban and regional leadership is constructed in the two nations, and the influence that the processes of formation, articulation and delivery have on effectiveness.