The form of place-based economic strategy that is the focus of this paper is ‘fleet-of-foot’ partnership arrangements. Contributing to the theorisation of these institutional configurations, which are propounded by some as more flexible and responsive than democratic-administrative alternatives, the paper investigates the empirical situation in England that has unfolded over recent years. Tracing the recent historical evolution of sub-national structures that could be considered ‘fleet-of-foot’, the paper analyses the implications for place-based economic strategies at large. Through an analysis of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the paper examines the extent to which the conceptual principles underpinning the notion of ‘fleet-of-foot’ arrangements have informed the configuration of LEPs, emphasising the importance of the legacy of past political constructions. Drawing attention to some of the primary weaknesses of ‘fleet-of-foot’ arrangements, the paper concludes that there are some inherent limitations to the present configuration of LEPs. These impede such partnerships in opening up space for a richer constellation of actors to participate in governance forums across flexible and functional geographies, or achieve efficient outcomes. More broadly, the paper contributes to the literature on place-based economic strategies and contemporary trends in economic development.