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Challenges for regional governance in Turkey: The role of development agencies

Ertugal, Ebru
This article examines the functioning of Regional Development Agencies (DAs) in Turkey from a policy instruments approach with a view to uncovering their intended and unintended consequences for regional governance. The policy instruments approach challenges the functionalist view that instruments are merely technical and neutral devices for realizing policy aims in the most effective way. Instead, the article shows that as policy instruments, the DAs are highly political with important political consequences. The article is based on original data collected and generated from an extensive review of official documents and reports and semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders in six different regions conducted between 2011 and 2014. On the basis of the findings, the article argues that the DAs in Turkey lack the capacity to act as focal points for empowerment of sub-national actors and to foster intra-regional networks between public and private sectors and civil society. Findings show that there is lack of collaboration both between and among different groups of local and those of central actors within the decision-making and implementation stages of the policy cycle and that local actors perceive the DAs as devices for accomplishing their own objectives rather than as partnerships for producing new possibilities of development. These findings indicate that the DAs are far from mobilizing endogenous growth capacities, greatly hindering them from becoming engines of development in their regions. Overall, the DAs are largely failing to manage multiscalar relations of governance for the purpose of promoting regional development.