Wood, A., Valler, D., Phelps, N., Raco, M. and Shirlow, P.
Devolution and the political representation of business interests in the UK.
Political Geography, 24, (3), . (doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2004.09.018).
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The devolution of political power in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the developing regional agenda in England are widely read as a significant reconfiguration of the institutions and scales of economic governance. The process is furthest developed in Scotland while Wales and Northern Ireland, in their own distinct ways, provide intermediate cases. Devolution is least developed in England where regional political identities are generally weak and the historical legacy of regional institutions is limited.
Within the overall context of devolution government policy has continued to emphasize partnership forms of governance. Accordingly, the political representation of business interests has a particular salience in the new arrangements. This paper reports on findings from a study designed to examine the relationship between devolution and changes in the political representation of business interests in the territories and regions of the UK. It highlights a number of changes in the nature and extent of business representation. While some of these are significant the evidence suggests that they fail to mark a fundamental shift in the institutional foundation for sub-national business interest representation in the UK. Indeed the political geography of business representation remains dominated by an overarching centralism that is likely to provide a significant check on the further devolution of political power and democratic authority.
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