In examining the topic of interaction between government funders and management in Australian regional development organisations, my intention at this stage is to raise some relevant yet new issues. In a year some tentative recommendations may have been formulated to address those issues.
The focus in this paper is on economic development in non-metropolitan Australia. "Government funders" refers state and federal government, rather than local government, who are considered as local stakeholders. This paper focuses on the structures involved in regional development, and some interactions between them. It examines in order regional development organisations, or RDOs, and their management, then government and its role in regional economic development and RDO structures.
The picture presented has been created from a variety of sources - from work as a regional development practitioner in northern N.S.W. for most of the last decade, from sharing through conferences and exchanges of papers with other practitioners, and now from a formal research program which started with a review of the literature of development programs overseas, of organisation theory, of public sector, business and non-profit sector management, of the activities of RDOs in Australia and is continuing through documentation of case studies of RDOs in Eastern Australia. To allow comparisons, the RDOs being studied are a mix of central government funded organisations (one is a NSW Regional Development Board) and of community-funded organisations. All relate stories that confirm the management and development literature here and overseas.
The wealth of literature on overseas and national development programs highlights the interactions between funders of development and recipients - recipient yet intermediary organisations as well as beneficiaries of the programs themselves. Particularly with the passage of time, relations between funder and recipient change, as with any organisations evolution. In the case of development programs, the changes range from the overt to covert in method and acceptable to corrupting in intent and outcome.