This paper addresses the theory–policy interface of local economic development. It traces the transmission chain through which academic knowledge on competitive city-regions is developed, formalised and institutionalised in local economic development theory and practice. The major thrust of this paper critically examines the increasingly influential role of academic consultants in shaping local economic development policy. In particular, it addresses the extent to which these experts directly influence policy formulation in case studies of Cardiff and Liverpool. Another dimension is the use of experts by local authorities, the reasons for selecting certain names and not others, and the extent to which their work helps to frame the context of local economic development policy. The paper ends by offering some comments on the relationship between the theory and practice of local economic development, and the similarity of local economic development policy approaches in Cardiff and Liverpool.
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