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Partnerships versus Regimes: Why Regime Theory Cannot Explain Urban Coalitions in the UK


* Jonathan S. Davies, Local Government Centre, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. E-mail:


Abstract This study compares and contrasts urban regeneration partnerships in the UK with urban regimes in the US. Regime theory, as developed by Elkin and Stone, neither describes nor explains the contrasting forms of collaboration in the UK. The development of urban regeneration partnerships has been driven by a combination of two main factors: the development of an ideological perception within local government elites that urban regeneration depends on market led growth, and a series of central government regeneration initiatives. These initiatives, designed to encourage, and where necessary coerce, local authorities into cooperative arrangements have resulted in highly bureaucratized, but symbolic, partnerships with local business elites. Business activity in these partnerships thus far has been marginal. It is unlikely to be fruitful, therefore, for scholars to seek Stonean regimes in the UK. On the other hand, to describe such partnerships as regimes is misleading and results in a lack of conceptual clarity. Despite the fashion for copying urban policy from the US, the institutions of urban politics in the UK are likely to remain resolutely different.