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Since it was founded in 1982, OECD LEED has understood local economic development as a complex process that requires unique kinds of leadership if it is to succeed. It is often led or facilitated by local governments, but because it is a ‘market-facing’ activity that operates over longer time frames, broader geographies, and with wider institutional collaboration than is usual for local government services or regulatory roles, it requires distinctive leadership arrangements. This has become even more starkly observed since the global crisis that began in 2008. How leadership adds value Leadership is a complex topic. It focuses on the ability of key people to make change happen and to improve the performance of an organisation, a system, and, in this case, a place. In this report the focus is on how leaders add value to local economies. As the report explains, this leadership dividend might occur in many different ways. This can include how public and private coalitions are built, how external investment is attracted and leveraged, how major redevelopment projects are defined and promoted, how skills and employment systems are recalibrated towards new economic sectors, and in how institutional reforms are devised and promoted. As local economic development is often not a statutory responsibility of governments, and as it is also a multi-sectoral form of public intervention, it is also an arena for substantial innovation, where leadership sets the agenda and builds the context for progress. In this report, the focus is on how leadership makes these kinds of changes happen, so that local economies are geared towards future opportunities rather than locked-in to previous cycles of production.

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