Increased complexity and rapid pace of change demand more from people responsible for regional development at various levels of activity. This paper has its roots in a belief that the more complex situations are the more regional development is dependent on the leadership and network management capacity of key individuals. It suggests that by studying more deeply the roles that various individuals, and coalitions formed by them, have in institutionalisation, deinstitutionalisation and reinstitutionalisation processes might provide us with additional analytical leverage in regional development studies. This paper focuses on diffuse networks of dispersed powers from a Finnish regional development officer's point of view. Regional development officers are those people whose job it is to boost the economic development of their respective regions in Finland. The research questions discussed here are: a) What kind of power is exercised by Finnish regional development officers; and b) how do regional development officers aim to gain influence for their efforts to promote regional development? The empirical research is based on data gathered a) through 41 interviews with Finnish actors responsible for the promotion of economic development in city governments, technology centres, regional development agencies, and ministries and other national bodies, and b) through internet survey of development officers at local, regional and national levels (531 respondents, response rate 51.8%). The survey was designed to solicit information about power and influence tactics in the context of regional development. The empirical analysis shows, for example, how interpretive power and network power are more important for regional development officers than institutional and resource power, and how indirect influence tactics surpass direct tactics.
regional development regional development officer leadership power influence Finland institution