Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED Programme)

A project on Building Local Economic Intelligence (BLEI)


A LEED project for 2011-2012


Introduction /  Objectives / A Six-Stage approach /  Methods / Participation



Gathering evidence is an essential requirement for local development organisations to design sound economic development strategies, demonstrate delivery against objectives, and prepare a path for future policy action. The new project of the OECD LEED Programme on building local economic intelligence (BLEI) aims to support national and local governments with sourcing and using information to design development strategies that are informed by evidence on current economic performance, drivers and enablers of change, existing barriers to development, and policy gaps. The BLEI project intends to provide a tailored template into which appropriate information is collected and used.

This new project builds on past recent work of the OECD LEED Programme, including the publication Making Local Strategies Work: Building the Evidence Base and the Project FIELD – Framework for Information Exchange and Local Development.


The overarching objective of the BLEI project is to increase the local capacity to collect and use appropriate economic information and evaluation evidence in a structured way so as to feed the strategy-making process. More specific objectives will consist in helping local development organisations to:


Identify “drivers”, “enablers”, and “barriers” to local economic development in such a way as to support an informed strategy-making process.


Improve local approaches to gathering information and evaluation evidence, as well as to using such information to feed the strategy making process.


Introduce and explain the implementation of knowledge-management tools such as horizon scanning and technology foresight to build forward-looking strategies.


Create a dashboard of indicators to monitor the progress of the strategy and to eventually compare the performance of the locality as against others equally involved in the project.


Evaluate the impact of local strategies on drivers, enablers and barriers to development, and use the evaluation evidence to fine-tune existing strategies and inform new ones.

A six-stage approach

The BLEI project adopts a six-stage approach, and its contribution will consist in introducing and strengthening each of these stages in local development organisations. The approach will adjust to the concrete needs and goals of the partner organisation, as each stage of the process will also depend on the final goal of the development strategy.


Figure 1. The BLEI Approach



Baseline analysis and benchmarking

At the outset of a local development strategy process, current economic performance and social conditions need to be carefully reviewed in order to produce an accurate understanding of the state of affairs. It is important to properly understand problems and challenges which sets constraints to local development. The baseline information plays an essential role in evidence-based strategy making since it provides the essential point of comparison for observing any policy-induced changes.


Future scan and foresight

Effective local economic development does not concern only mitigating social and economic problems, but it is also about taking advantage of available economic opportunities. A foresight activity casts light on expected changes and potential opportunities for economic renewal. It builds on an information base and on a participatory process.


Strategy formulation

From the perspective of an evidence-based local strategy, it is important that drivers, enablers, and barriers to economic development are correctly identified, so that policy can address the three of them. Drivers and enablers are the levers that a locality needs to focus on in order to create a high-impact development plan, whereas barriers to development need clearly be removed.


The logic model

The logic model is an analytical project-planning approach to specify the logical structure of planned activities, based on their consequences and impacts. The rationale behind its use is clarifying the causal relations that typically remain fuzzy in the complex socio-economic settings in which local development takes place. Logic models can be used at two related levels of aggregation. First, a logic model can be used to specify broad strategic goals into more operational chain of activities, their immediate results, and subsequent impacts. Second, the logic model approach can be applied at the project level.


Dashboard of indicators

In the promotion of local economic development one may tap into a large variety of potential statistical sources of information. The diversity of these sources is a constant challenge, as they provide somewhat inconsistent collections of knowledge with varying timeframes and updating practices. A commonly applied solution to this challenge is to compile key indicators in a dashboard. A dashboard of indicators is a tool to monitor and communicate policy performance against targets and other comparator areas (e.g. the national or regional average or still a similar locality).



The ultimate purpose of evaluation is to generate evidence about impacts of local development policy. Conceptually, this task requires comparing the observed outcomes with a counterfactual situation – i.e. a situation in the absence of policy – and demonstrating that the outcomes can be attributed to the policy intervention. In other words, an evaluation needs to compare the outcomes (policy-on) with the counterfactual condition where there was no local development policy in place at all (policy-off). Different methodologies exist, and within this project the evaluation exercise builds on the logic model approach and the dashboard of indicators.



The following methodological steps can be envisaged for this project:

i) start-up meeting;
ii) preparation of a background paper by a local expert;
iii) desk research by the local expert and the OECD secretariat;
iv) study visit by a review panel consisting of international experts and OECD secretariat;
v) report drafting;
vi) workshop to deliver results and capacity-building; vii) delivery of the final report.



Both local and national governments can participate in this project by signing up for: a) a full-fledged review of the strategy making process of one (local government) or more localities (national government); or b) a thematic workshop that focuses either on a specific topic or on a stage of the BLEI process to evidence-based strategy making.

  • Comprehensive review:

    The review will analyse each of the six steps of the BLEI approach to strategy making, with a view to improving the information channel leading to the elaboration and evaluation of the development strategy. The study will also result in the creation of a dashboard of indicators and will be followed by a workshop discussing how to implement the findings and recommendations of the analysis in the current strategy making process and evaluation system. The results will be presented in a full-fledged report.

  • Focused workshop:

    Alternatively, a national or local actor can decide to organise a workshop with a narrower focus either on a specific theme (e.g. entrepreneurship, skills, social inclusion, etc.) or on a specific phase of the BLEI six-stage approach that is of particular concern to him. The workshop will be geared towards policy makers engaged in strategy-making and monitoring and evaluation, and will result in a paper presenting the results of the workshop and suggestions for improvement in the practices of the partner organisation/s.



Jonathan Potter, Senior economist

Marco Marchese, Policy analyst
Tel.: +33-1-4524 8977
Tel.: +33-1-4524 7856