Return to Richard's Home Page

Inclusive Communities and Civic Engagement

ISRN City Regions Study: Theme III

(Completed June 2009)

The innovation systems and cluster literature has argued recently that government, especially at the regional and local levels, retains an essential role in the learning economy, but one that departs from traditional forms. A key societal challenge, according to this perspective, is to create the conditions in which firms, associations, and public agencies engage in a collective process of interactive learning and adaptation to stimulate innovation and creativity. This conception of governance delegates certain tasks from formal government agencies to business associations or community organizations that possess relevant assets (such as knowledge of, and credibility with, their members) needed to ensure the effectiveness of their policies. Sharing power and responsibility with lower levels of government and community organizations creates the opportunity for dialogue or discussion, which is central to the process by which parties come to reinterpret their roles and relationship to other actors within the local.

The research we are doing investigates the specific conditions that facilitate or inhibit the emergence of effective collaborative leadership and the broadly based civic engagement that integrates community stakeholders within a social process of interactive learning.