Abstract||Strategy offers regional stakeholders an opportunity to collaboratively influence the future direction of their region’s economy. However, limited research has been undertaken with respect to strategy processes that are being used by regional economic development organisations. While there are suggestions for the ideal content of regional economic development strategies, the processes by which these organisations develop and implement strategy have not been investigated. This thesis documents an exploratory research project that utilises a case study methodology to identify and consider the processes applied in three different regional economic development organisations.
In order to appreciate the context of regional strategy development, theory on regions, collaboration and strategy is integrated to develop a detailed theoretical framework of twenty seven elements that are thought to contribute to implementation. The presence or absence of these elements in each of the three cases is explored deductively through a review of internal documents and semi-structured interviews with a mix of regional stakeholders. Elements are investigated within cases to understand how strategy is being applied within each particular context. Analysis across cases is documented, identifying both similarities and differences in the presence and absence of elements.
The research found that relationships were important to the continuing future of the organisations. Long term planning was absent in all cases and this absence was attributed to contextual factors such as a dynamic external environment, and a dependence on government funding leading to short term planning cycles. There was also a lack of clarity regarding organisational goals. The processes utilised in all cases most closely matched Mintzberg and Waters’ (1998) umbrella strategy, however, all organisations lacked a strategic approach.
A tentative model was developed to depict elements thought to be the most significant to collaborative regional strategy implementation. These elements are: leadership on strategic planning; good member to member relationships; realism; long term goals; performance measures tied to long term goals; ongoing review and updating of the strategic plan; relevance of the strategic plan; and consistency of activities with the strategic plan. The need for further research to investigate these potential relationships was indicated.