2019-Juliette Summers

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are an international, and controversial, model for local economic development

Project summary: Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) - membership organisations established through a majority vote of rateableproperties (businesses, schools, churches and other community buildings) within a defined area - are an international,and controversial, model for local economic development. On the one hand, they are promoted as economic and socialdevelopment vehicles based on democratic governance by local organisations with a collective, inclusive remit. On theother hand, they are considered to be neoliberal vehicles enabling the privatisation of public services and “a threat todemocratic accountability” (Hoyt 2005: 186).This project focuses on BID managers in Scotland, where BIDs are promoted by the Scottish government as a form ofinclusive (community and business) growth. As a BID manager’s role is to turn this aim into actionable practices, theirinterpretation of inclusive growth is key to the form these activities take, yet there is very limited research on thesemanagers or the challenges they face. Drawing on interviews with BID managers, the project explores how they negotiatetensions between conflicting discursive resources impacting on, and available to, them in their work, and investigates theidentity work undertaken in the authoring of their professional identities. In seeking to make visible what identitypractices “enable or constrain within the practices and processes of organizing” (Coupland & Brown 2012: 4) the researchprovides insights into what models and meanings of inclusive growth are promoted by BID managers. As BIDs are aglobal phenomenon, this research contributes to the development of management knowledge and practiceinternationally.