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Czech regional development agencies in a shifting institutional and policy landscape

McMaster, I. (2006) Czech regional development agencies in a shifting institutional and policy landscape. Europe-Asia Studies, 58 (3). pp. 347-370. ISSN 0966-8136

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Abstract

In recent years regional development disparities in the Czech Republic have been increasing, regional policy and regionalisation have moved up the national political agenda, and considerable regional development resources have become available through EU Structural Funds. The Czech Republic now has more than 18 institutions that describe themselves as Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), with a wide range of policy and practical experience and, in the present climate, they should now be poised to take on a key regional development role. However, their function and position in regional development networks is continually plagued by uncertainty, and they are struggling to fulfil the 'ideal' of what an RDA is and what it should do. This article asks why this is the case and examines how domestic and EU policy agendas and actors have influenced the role and function of RDAs in the Czech Republic. Whilst theories such as 'new regionalism' suggest that RDAs can lead integrated, bottom-up regional development actions, it is questionable whether Czech RDAs have the capacity to adapt to the type of role that proponents of this approach expect.