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Keywords:

  • interorganizational collaboration;
  • exponential random graph model;
  • economic development policy network

Regional economic development competition can be inefficient and destructive because decisions by one governmental unit can impose both externalities on its neighbors. Collaborative networks of multiple stakeholders within and across jurisdictions are an increasingly crucial component of regional economic development. In this article, we focus on the emergence of voluntary and self-organizing network relationships among local governments to address economic development concerns. The motivations and decisions of local actors play a critical role in shaping and implementing regional collaboration. On a micro level, the collaboration choices are shaped by three primary factors: the transaction costs reflected in the configuration of relationships in which an actor is embedded; the organizational similarities (homophily); and the resource dependencies that shape the local actors' preferences for forming relationships with other specific actors. We utilize an exponential random graph model (ERGM) to test hypotheses regarding the most prominent observed patterns of network relationships within and across different organizational sectors. The results demonstrate that both reciprocity and social clustering structures are preferred by both government and nongovernment organizations. These results suggest that interorganizational collaboration for economic development requires more than simple exchange relationships. Rather, network actors may be better served by participating in a densely clustered network that is capable of maintaining credible commitments to collective solutions.