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Mapping institutional work as a method for local strategy; learning from boom/bust dynamics in the Canadian west

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We investigate the potential of mapping institutional work in communities as a method for both analyzing and formulating local development strategy. Twelve Canadian case communities experiencing dramatic ups and downs (‘boom and bust towns’) serve as the empirical base. Analytically, we find that institutional work for strategy takes on very diverse forms, some of them not described in the literature, and further identify a special class of institutional work associated with leadership. Normatively, we demonstrate that mapping institutional work can be a structured process of self-reflection underpinning strategy. For the Canadian case study, we find that lack of local autonomy is often a stumbling block for strategy. More broadly, we conclude that mapping institutional work for strategy works best when governance evolutions are grasped as context, and when strategy itself is understood in its complex, multifaceted nature: a narrative, a way of linking institutions, and an institution in itself.
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Keywords: Canada; boom and bust; institutional work; local development; strategy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada 2: Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Publication date: January 2, 2019

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