Attempting to avoid the excessive embeddedness and path dependence considered to have been associated with many past forms of local economic development, authorities are increasingly likely to favour light and fragmented arrangements. Institutions are rarely allowed to have much power, and their structures are frequently subject of reorganisation, even though the component elements that came together to make the reorganised forms are often the same. These governance patterns therefore resemble a kaleidoscope. The authors are critical of such policy approaches. They point out that frequent change prevents learning and the establishment of trust. Paradoxically, the net result is a strengthening of central governmental forces. They consider examples from a range of European countries, concentrating on cases from the UK and Italy. In the latter in particular there is evidence of dissatisfaction with fragmentation on the part of local actors, who often try to establish more substantive structures for steering development programmes.