ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT QUARTERLY / November 2001
Compounding this challenge is the point made by Clarke (2001) and Stone (2001) that local civic cultures are not static; they evolve and change over time. We completely agree. Indeed, we were able to see these changes in two of the case cities (Cornwall and Allen Park), where business leaders are beginning to organize and press for a more active role in development decision making. Whether development regimes will form in these currently “regimeless” cities is open to question, but it is clear that cultures change, although perhaps very slowly, over time. This is another chal- lenge to future research: to identify how cultures change, what forces prompt cultural change, and what effects change has on local policy. Accordingly, we are in the midst of quantitative and case study analyses that will provide some initial time series insights, and we hope that this exchange will stimulate others to do the same.
In a similar vein, Clarence Stone (2001) raises important questions ripe for future research. First, how does civic culture operate in other policy arenas? Are there separate civic cultures for economic development as opposed to educational policy, for example? We’re not sure. Another important research task is to expand the use of civic culture to other policy areas. We would note, however, that contrary to Stone’s concerns that in looking at economic development we may have “downplayed” the effects of economy, this is the policy area where the economy should have the greatest role. By looking at a policy arena where business should have the greatest interest if not influence (research on cozy or iron triangles would suggest that businesses should focus their efforts to affect policy in those areas that are most important to them) and where global economic forces would have significant impacts, we have conservatively biased the findings. If economic forces have only a limited role vis-à-vis the local culture in economic development, they should have even less for recreation or public safety services.
As a corollary, the role of civic culture also needs to be explored in larger cities. For example, would it be reasonable to assume that a large and racially diverse city such as Detroit would have a single civic culture? and Would there be different cultures around different policy areas, as sug- gested by Painter’s (1997) discussion of the concept of habitus, or would different ethnic and racial cultures be evident that would support the development of separate governing or civic cultures? These are all legitimate and important questions for future research. But just because civic culture has not yet answered these questions is not a reason to assume that it is not or can’t be the answer. And that brings us full circle; we believe that local civic culture offers a paradigm for understand- ing many of these critical questions about economic development policy making and local policy making more generally. It takes Stone’s (2001) statement that “how human agents govern is the central question” to task and begins to build a new and appropriate framework for answering this question. The real test is in articulating the questions to which the answer is . . . local civic culture.
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