Table of Contents
Urban Studies Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 436290, 13 pages
Research Article

Economic Development Perspective and City Leadership

1Department of Political Science, Lamar University, 4400 MLK Boulevard, Beaumont, TX 77710, USA
2Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, 4220 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA
3Department of Public Administration, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 1 University Road, Pembroke, NC 28372, USA

Received 7 June 2011; Revised 30 August 2011; Accepted 5 September 2011

Academic Editor: Annette Hastings

Copyright © 2011 James Vanderleeuw et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The viability of traditional economic development strategies has long been questioned by urban policy scholars; yet traditional strategies remain the norm among city leaders. Traditional concerns emphasize economic and business considerations at the expense of nontraditional community considerations such as quality of life. In this paper, we examine the conditions under which city leaders give weight to nontraditional community concerns when making economic development decisions. Our analysis of the results of a survey conducted of more than 200 leaders in over 150 Texas cities indicates that although traditional economic development concerns remain dominant, certain conditions may exist that allow or compel city leaders to give increased weight to non-traditional community considerations. Conditions revealed by our study include the socioeconomic status of Texas cities and the relative differences in leadership positions and professionalism among city leaders. The paper concludes with a discussion of how our study contributes to the literature about economic development policy and points to avenues for future research on the conditions under which decision-making strategies are pursued by city leaders.