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Formal planning also may influence local economic development support. Early economic development work exhibited a lack of planning, but today, many cities have adopted plans to improve program targeting (Eisinger, 1988). Based on existing studies of economic development, the effects of these plans are not well known. Although Reese (1997) included economic develop- ment planning as one element of her rational planning and evaluation index, she did not specify a direct relationship with expenditures. Formal planning, however, may represent more effort toward economic development and may be associated with higher levels of city expenditures on economic development.

A number of other factors have been identified empirically as affecting local policy making. The economic conditions within the city may influence local decision making. Two dimensions of economic conditions have been considered in past studies. First, the fiscal circumstances of the local government are thought to affect policy decisions (Cable, Feiock, & Kim, 1993; Clark & Ferguson, 1983; Goetz, 1990). Second, population needs may direct policy. For example, unemployment and the poverty rate have been used in empirical studies to capture needs (Reese, 1991; Rubin & Rubin, 1987). In addition, some researchers have identified population growth (Clark & Ferguson, 1983; Goetz, 1990) and form of government as important factors in explaining policy decisions (Feiock & Clingermeyer, 1986; Green & Fleischmann, 1991).

Finally, the type of city—central or suburban—might result in differences in expenditures. Decades of population migration show an increase in suburban city populations and a general decline in central city populations, even in metropolitan areas that experienced overall growth (Gale, 1987; Kasarda, Appold, Sweeney, & Sieff, 1997; Moss, 1997). Furthermore, globalization of the economy and economic restructuring from a manufacturing to a service economy has resulted in a shift of employment opportunities from central cities to suburbia (Downs, 1994; Imbroscio, Orr, Ross, & Stone, 1995; Mollenkopf, 1983). In other words, central cities have tended to experience economic decline, whereas suburban cities have enjoyed growth and prosperity. Therefore, success in suburban cities may preclude the need to spend extensively on economic development, whereas decline in central cities may lead to higher levels for these types of expenditures.

The next section discusses the methodology used in the research. In addition, we describe the data and present the variables used in analysis.


This research is designed to investigate the different explanations of local economic develop- ment policy making. The cross-sectional design uses cities as the units of analysis. The sampling design was developed to allow for generalizability to the population of cities. To strengthen the validity and reliability of the data and results, we followed systematic survey procedures, devel- oped concepts and variables based on theory and previous studies, and performed regression analy- ses to control for extraneous variables. This section describes the sampling design, survey procedures and response, and the data used in the analyses.

Sampling, Survey Methods, and Response Rates

The research population included all cities with a 1990 population of 25,000 or greater in the United States (N = 1,070). We selected a disproportionate, stratified random sample of 709 cities from the population. The sample was stratified by city population and geographic region to improve sampling efficiency. We disproportionately sampled from the strata with the largest cit- ies to increase the likelihood that this group of cities would be represented in the final sample (Foreman, 1991; Kish, 1967). This sampling design is accounted for in the analysis by weighting each case by the inverse of the sampling proportion times the response rate in its stratum.

A mail survey was used for the collection of data from economic development professionals in the sample of cities. A survey questionnaire was developed to capture the perceptions of profes- sionals about the economic development politics in their city and to collect specific information


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