A Critical Review of Canadian, American & European Community Economic Development Literature

Centre for Community Enterprise, Institute for Community Economic Development

Author +
Jean-Marc Fontan

Year: 1993

Owing to the constraints inherent in this study, we have opted for a literature review that is qualitative and confined to works published in English and French. It is also limited geographically to the national territories of developed countries, and covers only the literature on European and North American  experiences.

Furthermore, in selecting the titles, we have taken into account the objectives set for this study by Health and Welfare Canada and the main criteria used in the social sciences to describe a subject of study: the status of the literature, the principal definitions encountered, a historical overview, the dimensions, tools and models of intervention, the evaluation methods and the main achievements of the subject under study.

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An analysis of the literature concerning local and community development initiatives reveals a proliferation of documents, which may be grouped into four broad   categories.

Firstly, most texts are descriptive in nature. They consist of thematic reviews or accounts of experiences that present historical, analytical and factual data. The series of publications on local initiatives (produced by the OECD), on local development (produced by the Economic Council of Canada), and on community economic development (produced by the Center for Community Economic Development) are good examples of this.

Secondly, there are documents of analytic nature: books, articles or lectures produced primarily by academicians and, in fewer cases, by practitioners.

Table of Contents

Status of the Literature
Principal Trends in Bottom-Up Development
Definitions and Characteristics of Bottom-Up Development Initiatives
Historical Overview of Community Economic Development
Dimensions of Community Economic Development Intervention
Intervention Models
Intervention Tools of Community Economic Development
The Methodology of Community Economic Development
Evaluation Methods and Major Achievements