This article provides a contextual framework for understanding local economic development policy-making and policy in Britain and the United States. The article is aimed at readers familiar with local economic development policy in one country (particularly the United States) who wish to gain an understanding of local economic development policy-making, policy, and politics in the other. The authors examine a series of differences between the two countries as they relate to local economic development. They then describe and discuss differences in national governmental structure and intergovernmental relations, local government structure and politics, local finance, the national policy framework; and the role of local interests (particularly local business) in local economic development. In each case, the authors analyze the consequences of those differences for local economic development policy.