Improved network governance in regional and local economic development partnerships : a management strategy

Venter, Carli (2019-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Partnerships have been on the rise as a preferred governance approach in the field of regional and local economic development (R&LED) in South Africa. The researcher as a professional in this field, noted that there were some difficulties experienced in ensuring longevity of these partnerships, already at the nascent stage of its application. Even though collaboration and partnerships, by their very nature, defy the application of a generic design or operating model, it was theorised that there must be some commonality around the key factors that inform the success or failure of partnerships in R&LED. This question was the main motivation for this study and the basis of the research problem. The main objectives of the study were to (i) contextualise the emergence of partnerships within the current legislative and practice framework for R&LED in South Africa; (ii) apply literature and tools from the fields of networks and governance to two cases in practice; and (iii) provide theoretical groundings for a network management strategy for partnerships in R&LED. The overall aim of the study is to contribute towards finding ways to overcome operational and performance barriers in R&LED partnerships, in keeping with the pragmatic practitioner approach. The empirical study was undertaken using a multi methods approach, while being heavily influenced as a reflective practitioner to undertake this investigation. The Case Study method was used to provide a rich and in-depth analysis of two R&LED partnership cases in the Western Cape, South Africa (one top-down and one bottom-up). The study revealed in the literature review process that diverse sets of role players in an R&LED landscape can be thought of as a network of actors in which one partner, usually a local authority or subnational government, wishes to influence and steer the network towards a common goal. This would entail the lead entity actively ensuring good network governance within the R&LED network. Partnerships in R&LED could take the shape of platforms, forums or entities established to perform this network governance actions and as such require the application of some set of good network management actions and strategies to be successful – both in delivering positive economic development results and meeting stakeholder expectations. In answering the research question, findings were distilled into a set of recommendations for R&LED partnership participants, which will allow the partnerships to derive benefit from a network governance focus: 1. Adopt an explicit focus on networks from the outset of an R&LED partnership formation process. This approach starts with an acknowledgement and understanding of the network at the start of a partnering process and then moves to a focus on the ideal network form which the partnership works to strengthen or expand over time. 2. If network governance is a key aim, ensure that the partnership is performing functions that will yield this as result. Three distinct possible functions could be pursued – namely operating as a networking platform, building a network structure or performing a network governance function. 3. Understand where in the network governance life cycle a partnership initiative is at any given point in time, and what actions are required to move towards the next. The time to progress through the stages will differ for bottom-up and top-down partnerships. It is recognised that any partnership may have a logical useful life and, as such, stability should not necessarily be the goal. If objectives have been achieved, or priorities shift, reorientation is desirable. The death or closure of a partnership is also not always negative. If objectives have been achieved, stakeholders will move on to new priorities and even new partnerships. The study culminates in the crafting of a management strategy for application in bottom-up R&LED partnerships in South Africa. The management strategy offers a roadmap that could be followed at the outset of a bottom-up partnership initiative but might equally be applied at some later stage if the partnership has already been established. In South Africa, the failure of government-driven R&LED increasingly highlights the need for bottom-up, innovative initiatives and multilevel governance approaches to meet the needs and unlock the potential of localities, be that within provinces, large cities or small towns. This study did not attempt to propose a standard approach or standard structure for R&LED partnerships. Instead, it advocates for the application of underutilised tools from network science to allow partnership leaders, managers and participants to better visualise and manage their own progress. This could secure longer-term support to ensure the longevity of their collaborations. Ultimately, network governance theory is “not the theory of everything” (Klijn & Koppenjan, 2012: 201), but it offers great potential in addressing complex challenges. The field of R&LED, and the practice of establishing partnerships, offers not only an area of application of a basket of network approaches but could tangibly and very practically benefit from this application, as this study demonstrates.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Vennootskappe is aan die toeneem as 'n voorkeur benadering in die gebied van streeks- en plaaslike ekonomiese ontwikkeling (S&PEO) in Suid-Afrika. Die navorser, as 'n professionele persoon in hierdie veld, het opgemerk dat daar probleme ondervind word om die langtermyn sukses van hierdie vennootskappe te verseker, reeds in die vroëe stadium van die toepassing van die benadering. Alhoewel die toepassing van 'n generiese ontwerp- of bedryfsmodel nie prakties is nie, is dit teoreties moontlik dat daar 'n mate van gemeenskaplikheid bestaan rondom die sleutelfaktore wat bydra die sukses of mislukking van vennootskappe in S&PEO. Hierdie vraag was die motivering vir hierdie studie en die basis van die navorsingsprobleem. Die hoofdoelwitte van die studie was om (i) die groei in vennootskappe as benadering binne die huidige wetgewende en praktykraamwerk vir S&PEO in Suid-Afrika te kontekstualiseer; (ii) literatuur en benaderings uit die velde van netwerke en publieke administrasie in twee gevalle in die praktyk toepas; en (iii) teoretiese grondslae te lê vir 'n netwerkbestuurstrategie vir vennootskappe in S&PEO. Die oorhoofse doel van die studie is om te help om maniere te vind om bedryfs- en prestasie hindernisse in S&PEO-vennootskappe te oorkom, in ooreenstemming met die pragmatiese en reflektiewe praktisynsbenadering. Die empiriese studie is onderneem deur 'n multi-metode benadering toe te pas. Die gevallestudiemetode is gebruik om 'n ryk en diepgaande analise van twee S&PEO-vennootskappe in die Wes-Kaap, Suid-Afrika te doen (‘n plaaslik gedrewe inisiatief deur ‘n groep rolspelers, en ‘n voorskriftelike regerings gedrewe inisiatief). Die literatuur studie het bevestig dat verskeie stelle rolspelers in 'n S&PEO-landskap beskou kan word as 'n netwerk van akteurs waarin een vennoot, gewoonlik 'n plaaslike owerheid of subnasionale regering, die netwerk wil beïnvloed en bestuur na 'n gemeenskaplike doel. Dit sal van hierdie sleutel speler vereis om aktief goeie netwerkbestuur binne die S&PEO-netwerk te verseker. Vennootskappe in S&PEO kan in die vorm van platforms, forums of entiteite ingestel word om hierdie netwerkbestuursaksies uit te voer. Dit vereis verder dat 'n aantal goeie netwerkbestuursaksies en -strategieë suksesvol moet wees - beide om positiewe ekonomiese ontwikkelings resultate te lewer en om aan belanghebbendes se verwagtinge te voldoen. By die beantwoording van die navorsingsvraag is bevindings gedistilleer in 'n stel aanbevelings met ‘n sterker netwerkbestuursfokus vir deelnemers aan S&PEO-vennootskappe gefomuleer: 1. Sluit uit die staanspoor 'n duidelike fokus op netwerke in in die vormings proses van ‘n S&PEO-vennootskaps. Hierdie benadering begin met 'n erkenning en begrip van die netwerk aan die begin van 'n proses en beweeg dan na 'n fokus op die ideale netwerkvorm wat die vennootskap poog om te versterk of uit te brei. 2. As netwerkbestuur 'n sleuteloogmerk is, moet daar verseker word dat vennootskap funksies uitgevoer word wat hierdie oogmerk as resultaat sal lewer. Drie afsonderlike moontlike funksies kan nagestreef word, naamlik om te dien as 'n netwerk platform, die bou van 'n netwerkstruktuur of 'n netwerkbestuur funksie. 3. Verstaan waar 'n vennootskapsinisiatief op enige gegewe tydstip in die netwerk bestuurs lewensiklus is en watter aksies nodig is om na die volgende fase te beweeg. Die tyd om deur fases te vorder verskil vir plaaslik gedrewe teenoor meer sentraal gedrewe vennootskappe. Enige vennootskap kan 'n logiese nuttige lewe hê en dus is stabiliteit nie noodwendig die doel nie. As doelwitte bereik is, of prioriteite verskuif, is heroriëntering wenslik. Die dood of sluiting van 'n vennootskap is nie altyd negatief nie, aangesien belanghebbendes voortgaan met nuwe prioriteite en selfs nuwe vennootskappe as doelwitte bereik is. Die studie sluit af met die daarstel van 'n bestuurstrategie vir toepassing in plaaslik gedrewe S&PEO vennootskappe in Suid-Afrika. Dit bied 'n padkaart wat aan die begin van ‘n vennootskapsinisiatief gevolg kan word, maar kan ook later toegepas word indien dit reeds gevestig is. In Suid-Afrika beklemtoon die mislukking van regeringsgedrewe S&PEO toenemend die behoefte aan plaaslik gedrewe, innoverende inisiatiewe en multivlak-bestuursbenaderings. Hierdie benaderings poog om die behoeftes van plaaslike rolspelers te bevredig en die potensiaal van lokaliteite te ontsluit, of dit in provinsies, groot stede of klein dorpies is. Hierdie studie het nie gepoog om 'n standaard benadering of struktuur vir S&PEO-vennootskappe voor te stel nie. In teen deel poog dit om die saak te stel vir die toepassing van onder benutte benaderings uit netwerkwetenskap om vennootskapsleiers, bestuurders en deelnemers toe te laat om hul eie vordering beter te visualiseer en te bestuur. Dit kan langtermyn-ondersteuning vir die werk van ‘n vennootskap binne ‘n netwerk verseker. Uiteindelik is die netwerk bestuurs teorie "nie die teorie van alles nie" (Klijn & Koppenjan, 2012: 201), maar dit bied groot potensiaal om komplekse uitdagings aan te spreek. Die veld van S&PEO, en die praktyk van vennootskappe, bied nie net 'n toepassingsgebied van 'n mandjie netwerk benaderings nie, maar dit kan tasbaar en baie prakties baat vind by hierdie toepassing, soos hierdie studie demonstreer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107111
This item appears in the following collections: