Strategic Planning and Economic Development: Concepts and Issues-A Symposium

Article excerpt

INTRODUCIION

Economic development has become one of the major public policies emphasized by state, county, and city governments for the last two decades (e.g., Eisinger, 1988; Levy, 1990; Luke et al., 1988; McGowan and Ottensmeyer, 1993). The importance of economic development for these governments has to do with changes in both the domestic and international economic and political environments. Domestically, for example, the turbulence of the national economy in the 1970s, the recessions of the early 1980s, the rise of federal budget deficits, and the cutback of federal aid to the states have forced state and local governments to broaden their efforts in economic development. Internationally, the globalization of the world economy, especially the increasing role of foreign trade and investment in the United States, has forced many state (and some large city) governments to become actively involved in international economic activities (e.g., Kline, 1983; Liou, 1993).

To promote economic development, public managers and policymakers have developed and implemented various policies and programs to attract and retain businesses (i.e., the third wave of state and local economic development policy). The policies and programs emphasized range from reducing the cost of doing business (e.g., production costs, direct loans, industrial parks, job training, tax abatements) to increasing services for business operation (e.g., R&D support, market information, development of social amenities) (Blakely, 1989; Eisinger, 1988; Luke et al., 1988). The effectiveness of these policies and programs has been empirically tested and generally supported in the literature of state and local economic development (Bartik, 1991).

State and local government officials have recently emphasized the use of strategic planning as one of the key managerial techniques not only to coordinate economic development activities but also to accommodate economic changes (e.g., Allen and Plosila, 1988; Mier, Moe, and Sherr, 1986; Reed and Blair, 1993; Reed, Reed, and Luke, 1987). The linkage between strategic planning and economic development provides an unique opportunity for researchers of public management and policy to examine concepts and issues related to strategic planning and economic development and to make a contribution to the literature of both disciplines.

For strategic planning researchers, the linkage between the two will help them understand the application of strategic planning in the public management and policy arenas. For economic development researchers, the linkage will give them more knowledge about critical issues related to economic development, planning, and management functions.

The purpose of this symposium is to examine the relationship between strategic planning and economic development. This introduction article will first offer explanations about some critical concepts that are related to strategic planning and economic development. Next, this article will summarize major issues and findings of the symposium articles.

CRITICAL CONCEPTS

Economic development has been defined or referred to as different goals or objectives for various governments under different conditions. At the national level, for example, the objective of economic development policy for developed countries is to increase their economic growth, usually measured by such output or income as gross national product (GNP) or gross domestic product (GDP). This objective is different from that of the developing countries. For those countries, the objective of their economic development policy refers not only to increase in the growth rate of GNP or GDP but also to changes in their economic, social, and political structures (Goode, 1984).

Locally-based economic development has been explained as "a process by which local government and/or community-based groups manage their existing resources and enter into new partnership arrangements with the private sector, or with each other, to create new jobs and stimulate economic activities in a well-defined economic zone" (Blakely, 1989:58). …