n Africa Insight - Planning or doing local economic development? Problems with the orthodox approach to LED

Volume 35, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


Promoting local economic development (LED) has become a growth sector in the international technical assistance industry, both in transformation economies and in developing countries. The experience of the 1990s reinforced the observation that active measures are necessary to promote economic development in low- and middle-income economies. From this perspective, LED is a pragmatic response to a visible need, and there seem to be good reasons to justify its use. However, there are doubts about the efficacy of LED: looking at the experience of industrialised countries, there is surprisingly little evidence of the effectiveness of LED. Thus, it is legitimate to ask whether introducing LED is worth the time and effort. In this paper, we address this question by looking at the conceptual issues that underlie the prevailing approaches to LED. We give an overview of orthodox approaches to LED, before arguing that the orthodox approach to LED suffers from serious flaws. Finally, we draw some conclusions regarding promising approaches to promoting LED in developing countries.

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