An increasingly complex array of actors is involved in today’s regional development agendas. They range from private firms and labour organisations to government and non-government institutions. Despite the growing awareness in the public and academic domains of the multi-actor nature of regional development, we still often struggle to fully comprehend the mutually interactive strategies and practices which cut across regions and countries. In light of recent upheavals in the global economic and financial system, such an understanding will be critical to future studies of regional development.
Indeed this interest in actors, institutions and organisations in regional development needs to be properly grounded in the wider contexts of global change in economic imperatives, transnational working and cooperation and environmental concerns. To some regions, these contexts provide favourable and timely frameworks for action and initiatives. Other regions may find these contexts increasingly challenging and threatening. Taken together, understanding better these broader contexts can provide important insights into regional development potential, planning and practices and establish the agenda for research and policy.