Governance in the English regions: the role of the regional development agencies

Graham Pearce*, Sarah Ayres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the absence of regional government, New Labour has pursued a process of administrative decentralisation in the English regions outside London, including the appointment of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), charged with stimulating economic modernisation and assisting in reducing regional economic disparities. They have acquired a key position as strategic power-brokers situated between the agendas of Whitehall and the demands of sub-national interests. RDAs operate, however, within complex, competing structures, tied to meeting nationally determined targets and too little attention has been given to capturing their overall effectiveness. Reflecting New Labour's rejection of the need for a more even spread of economic activity between regions, RDAs also lack sufficient resources to make a significant impact on economic disparities. Treasury-led reforms could see the agencies taking responsibility for preparing single regional strategies, but there are contradictions between their remit to increase economic growth and deliver social and environmental objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-557
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009


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