Observational Equivalence? Regional Studies and Regional Science
McCann, P. (2007). Observational Equivalence? Regional Studies and Regional Science. Regional Studies, 41(9), 1209-1221.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/1928
This paper considers the methodological and empirical issues raised by the adoption of stylized constructs in the development of regional policy. Public policies invariably require funding, and the greater levels of public data availability and press scrutiny nowadays have led to increasing requirements for policy transparency driven by evidence-based policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. At the same time, however, many current urban and regional policy frameworks are increasingly being based on constructs that do not lend themselves to empirical evaluation. Therefore, there appears to be something of a mismatch. This paper discusses these problems and argues that instead of being seen as contradictory, one can regard certain aspects of regional analysis as raising topical questions and issues to be examined, while other methodological approaches are always required in order to respond to policy questions. Both can be seen as complements of each other, although designing policies which are based on constructs amenable to formal empirical evaluation is always required for ensuring good policy.
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