Original Research

South African local economic development policy approaches and challenges: Finding a sustainable approach in social innovation

Pontso P. Chomane, Mareve I. Biljohn
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 4 | a147 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jolgri.v4i0.147 | © 2023 Pontso P. Chomane, Mareve I. Biljohn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 June 2023 | Published: 26 December 2023

About the author(s)

Pontso P. Chomane, Department of Public Administration and Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mareve I. Biljohn, Department of Public Administration and Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Increased economic competition globally, makes local economic development (LED) more critical given its contribution to national economies. Local governments (LGs) are central to steering the direction and growth of local economies through their policy approaches. In the last decade, social innovation (SI) has been on the global policy and research agenda as an approach to address economic development challenges. In South Africa’s LG context, SI’s application as a sustainable approach to LED is however nascent.

Aim: To explore SI as a sustainable approach to implementing LED policy approaches adopted in the LED strategies of South African municipalities.

Setting: Social innovation’s application is congruent with LED’s embeddedness in partnerships between a municipality and local or other stakeholders. This however appears to be latent in South Africa’s LG context and highlights a research gap.

Methods: Using an interpretivist paradigm, a qualitative research approach is applied. A literature review with a predetermined approach was applied to search for relevant research concerning SI and LED to address the research aim.

Results: Local government should play a leadership role in initiating SI’s application across different sectors, adopting policies harnessing its application, and cultivating a promotive and enabling institutional culture.

Conclusion: Social innovation’s application as a sustainable approach to LED requires an enabling policy framework to yield its benefits.

Contribution: Social innovation’s application as a sustainable LED policy approach, is presented as integral to an institutional culture that drives LED across different departments contributing to key deliverables of a municipality’s LED strategy.


Keywords

local economic development; pro-poor approach; pro-market approach; local government; social innovation

JEL Codes

R58: Regional Development Planning and Policy

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

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