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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Do Regions Matter? Evidence on Capabilities and Coalitions from Defense-Dependent Regions


This paper asks whether regional capabilities and coalitions can shape economic development outcomes in a period of intense structural adjustment. Rapid cuts in defense procurement spending with their associated closure offacilities and elimination ofmillions ofdefense­ related jobs since the end of the Cold War offer an opportunity to probe differences in capability and responses on theparr ofdefense dependent regions in the US and Europe. This paper uses a novel approac pooling across a set of in-depth case studies by the authors and other scholars to compare outcomes. Three kinds of defense regions are examined: 1) military aerospace , 2) military shipyards, and 3) naval bases---i1sing eleven cases drawnfrom three countries (US, Germany, and France). We conclude that regional capability and mobilization can make a dramatic difef rence. Regions more likely to succeed in movingpeople,facilities and technologies into new civilian uses are those with a history ofcoping with industrial decline, a strong public sector held in relatively high regard by its citizens, an ability to tronscend partisanpolitics andjurisdictional competition, and active advocacy for conversion on the part oftrade unimJS, peace activists, community economic development advocates, and/or local businesses. Comparing across nations, national government posture towards conversion can significantly enhance or constrain regional efforts as well. The paper concludes with recommendations to strengthen national and regional level planning approachesfor structural adjustment mare generally.

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