Date of Award

Winter 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Management

Committee Director

Leonard Ruchelman

Committee Member

Roger Richman

Committee Member

Christopher Colburn

Committee Member

Bruce Rubin

Committee Member

Berhanu Mengistu


This study analyzes the effectiveness of a network of five regional organizations to promote economic development in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Using a case study methodology, data collected from organizational documents, media reports, and personal interviews was categorized and triangulated to determine how many regional economic proposals were implemented from 1990 to 2000. This analysis created a regional timeline from which was produced a regional inventory of economic proposals. This study concluded that the regional economic development organizations in Hampton Roads have a fragmented network and their output has been influenced by regional factors.

Specifically out of a total of nineteen economic proposals considered by the regional network, only eight were actually implemented. The remaining proposals were not implemented or were still under consideration. Efforts like a merger of transportation organizations and creation of a technology incubator were implemented while proposals like a regional sports arena and regional workforce development were not successful. Analysis determined that many proposals were influenced by more than economic considerations. When political, historical, cultural, geographical, or legislative factors influenced the economic proposal, the regional network effectiveness was impacted. Networking models and network effectiveness criteria from earlier research provided a framework to review the proposals and assess the network.

This study supports earlier research that regional network effectiveness can be evaluated using criteria, such as range of services provided, absence of service duplication, and multiplexity. Furthermore regionalism is strengthened by cooperative networking models and weakened by use of a scattershot network model. Since this study concluded that Hampton Roads regional organizations operated a fragmented network, it appears that neither a growth coalition nor a regime has significantly impacted economic development over the last decade. It appears to be more the case, as Allan Wallis predicted in 1994, that fragmentation of a region does not mean there is too much government, but rather it means that a region cannot perceive, think, and act as a whole.