ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT QUARTERLY / November 2001
Susan Clarke (2001 [pp. 320-322, this issue]) asks several broad questions about the methodol- ogy underpinning our arguments. First, the selection of the nine case studies was based on cluster analysis as indicated; the cities were chosen to represent particular mixes of local conditions (e.g., fiscal stress, competitive environment, local government structure, decision-making style, busi- ness and citizen input). Full case studies were conducted in each city involving a number of inter- views, analyses of documents, and so on. The excerpts from the case studies were used here only as illustrations of central points, as Clarke suggests. They do not include the depth of descriptive information that lies behind the vignettes. Regression and path analysis are included in the book (and some findings briefly described here) to explore the relationship between specific elements of local civic culture as well as to explain particular policy choices. Finally, factor analyses were run to reduce the data and construct indexes, not to select the cases.
The civic culture of local economic development policy includes the arrangements for the decision-making enterprise, the process through which decisions are made, the interests involved in decision making, and the decision-making styles evident in the local public arena.
A point raised by Clarke (2001) and Bowman (2001 [pp. 317-319, this issue]) is the extent to which our “mixed” methodology, using survey and case study analysis, is really all that unique. It is always dangerous to say that something has not been done in the literature to date because it so quickly becomes one of those things you wish you had never said. Of course, there are studies that mix quantitative and qualitative methods—as noted—but they tend not do so in quite the same way, or, we would argue, necessarily take full advantage of both methods. For example, Pagano and Bow- man (1995) use survey data sets to select case study cities, but their book presents the case study analyses. They do not link the two levels of analysis. Although Clarke and Gaile (1998) used linked survey and case study analyses, the former focused on larger cities and the latter on only four cases.
Clearly, the concept of local civic culture needs more discussion both on a theoretical and an operational level. We will take on this task briefly here but end with some suggestions about what needs to be done in future research. First, what is the local civic culture? The civic culture of local economic development policy includes the arrangements for the decision-making enterprise, the process through which decisions are made, the interests involved in decision making, and the deci- sion-making styles evident in the local public arena. The arrangements for economic development decision making include the nature and extent of community resources devoted to economic devel- opment and the structure of the economic development enterprise itself. Is the economic develop- ment function placed within the office of the chief executive? Is there an independent department for economic development? and Is economic development part of a larger planning or community development department? These placement or structural decisions do not necessarily relate to the larger form of local government and reflect diverse aspects of the local milieu: the emphasis placed on economic development, whether decisions tend to be made politically (by elected officials) or professionally (by bureaucrats), and the extent to which decisions are likely to be open to outside pressure and scrutiny. Decision-making processes include the locus of primary power in economic development decisions, encompassing the balance between government and other actors; the role of local bureaucrats in the decision process; and most important, the balancing of business and citi- zen groups in development decisions. Decision-making styles are represented by the world views of participants, the extent of rationality in the process, how goals are set and the nature of those goals, how the community envisions itself now and in the future, and the extent to which develop- ment participants feel they can affect and control the destiny of their community. In this sense, local economic development decisions and policies are more than economics and indeed are more con- textually defined than a particular regime; they are socially embedded within the cultural fabric of a local community. In short (Granovetter, 1985),
actors do not behave or decide as atoms outside a social context, nor do they adhere slavishly to a script written for them by the particular intersection of social categories that they happen to occupy. Their attempts at purposive actions are instead imbedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations. (p. 487)
These components of local civic culture reflect the central attributes of political culture identi- fied in early work by Kluckhohn (1954). The decision-making styles include the language used to describe the community and the visions that local stakeholders identify when they talk about the community and its future. The way decisions are made is also shaped by and reflect local symbols