Leadership and systems of governance: the constraints on the scope for leadership of place-based development in sub-national territories. Regional Studies. A triadic conceptualization of leadership, governance systems and central–local relations is constructed in order to aid understandings about the influence of systems of governance on the scope for place-based leadership. Deploying the dual concepts of ‘permissibility’ and ‘acceptability’ provides an innovative analytical device for deciphering the actually existing nature of place-based leadership. Recently initiated public–private partnerships in one of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) most centralized countries are analysed to articulate characteristics of controlling mechanisms of the national system of governance which shape the degree of autonomy of leadership of city and regional development in sub-national terrains.