The Zombie-Like Persistence of Failed Local Neoliberalism: The Case of UNDP's Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) Network in Latin America
International Development Studies Working Paper #14.3
64 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 18, 2014
This paper examines the effectiveness of the Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) model of institutional support for local economic development (LED), a model of LED that became very popular in the 1990’s as the neoliberal political project began its global ascendancy. The paper draws upon rich primary data from Latin America, and much secondary data from many other countries, to demonstrate that the LEDA model has been an almost wholly ineffective instrument through which to promote LED, if it has in fact not seriously compromised the LED operations of those communities in which has been established. The LEDA concept has almost no evidence to support the widespread claims that it has improved the LED function in developing countries. The next question then obviously begged is, Why then were so many international donor agencies, notably UNDP, willing to support the LEDA model, and for so long, if it was in fact a manifestly ineffective LED institution? The answer to this question, it is argued, is primarily to be found in the politics and ideology of the LEDAs, which reflect core neoliberal imperatives – that all development institutions must be private sector-led and financially self-sustainable. The manifestly ineffective LEDAs were therefore tolerated, and evidence of their ineffectiveness suppressed, because the LEDAs were the reflection of key neoliberal imperatives.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation