The search for enterprising places

The search is on to identify stimulating localities and places where actors are introducing new sets of entrepreneurial synergies. Where are these places and more importantly what networks of actors are leading entrepreneurial endeavours? Mobilising an ‘enterprise surge’ has become the leitmotif of contemporary spatial interventions and state-sponsored economic development strategies promoted across diverse international settings.

Across the global economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, many communities are forging their own ‘bottom up’ interventions sensitive to the particularities, opportunities and impediments associated with specific places. The ‘new’ Africa, for example, is riding a wave of investment in infrastructure and new models of governance, management and development. Mobile technology is creating new opportunities for the growth of the private sector and their role in the governance of places. Meanwhile, in China, the search is on for novel approaches to city planning that embrace the rapidity of urban change in more sustainable ways without stifling the ability to improve economic wellbeing. Different responses and the emergence of alternative development models call for a detailed exploration of new governance networks and an in-depth examination of experimental models of leadership at the forefront of cutting-edge entrepreneurial practice.

State agencies continue to perform crucial roles across the landscape of enterprising places, yet the role of the state is often obscure and ambiguous. The majority of places in Europe and the United States, for example, have developed entrepreneurial strategies that require cross-sector cooperation, exchange and initiatives. Therefore there has been a blurring of the roles and functions that once separated ‘public’, ‘private’ and ‘community’ actors. Softer forms of facilitation and negotiation are often required, which raises crucial questions relating to the politics of governance and power relations.

In England the creation of 39 local enterprise partnerships has positioned these governance networks at the heart of leading an enterprise surge. However, some of these public-private partnerships have failed to make a noticeable impact and it has often been left to more ‘local’ networks of actors to realise entrepreneurial synergies in places. Local development trusts, such as the one in Amble, are attempting to provide the leadership to marshall depleted resource streams and activate new ways of working, while in other communities, new community-led ventures are springing up, such as Incredible Edible in Todmorden, west Yorkshire which is increasing the production and consumption of locally grown food.

From Wisconsin in the USA to Malmö in Sweden, a new generation of eco-municipalities are emerging as they cooperate and collaborate across local-global scales. Highlighting what embedding a culture of enterprise in places can achieve, new practices are posing a serious challenge to some of the more orthodox entrepreneurial support strategies and place-less interventions that have been feverishly pursued by over recent times. A forthcoming book, Enterprising Places: Leadership and Governance Networks, seeks to draw on a collection of case studies, comparative examinations and broader investigations with the goal of demonstrating the role and importance of place in the pursuit, stimulation and generation of entrepreneurial synergies. It is intended that this collection of work will make an important contribution to the ‘messy’ leadership and networked governance efforts vital for performing entrepreneurial synergies in place.

We are particularly interested in receiving chapter contributions from practitioners, policymakers and activists that draw on their experiences, insights and reflections. Meshing the analytical formulations and reflective commentary of research analysts, scholars and those ‘in the field’ helps to identify important policy issues and practical considerations along the way. If you are mobilising an ‘enterprise surge’ in your locality then we want to hear from you. Enterprising Places: Leadership and Governance Networks is to be published as Volume III of the ‘Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research’ series (Emerald/ISBE).

The book will be organised by the following key themes: entrepreneurial strategies, entrepreneurial leadership and entrepreneurial governance networks. Expressions of interest (abstract of no more than 400 words detailing objectives, approach, results and implications for policy/practice) in any of the key themes should be e-mailed to the relevant editor no later than 16 November 2012. Further details can be found here.

  • Dr Lee Pugalis is senior lecturer in urban theory and practice at Northumbria University


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