The funds allocated through the EU Rural Development Programme provided the engine for local stakeholders to interact, forming mixed collaboration partnerships. This paper investigates the structure of such partnerships with the aim of verifying whether (R1) there are significant differences between the various stakeholder categories in influencing the rural development process, and (R2) which categories of stakeholders are more empowered in directing the design of sustainable rural development. The study is focused on two Italian cases: the regions of Apulia and Veneto. Using a combination of SNA and nonparametric tests, the results demonstrate that the empowerment of the stakeholders followed unequal paths in the two cases; i.e., a central role is clearly played by economic associations in Apulia, while this power is more distributed between different kinds of stakeholders in the case of Veneto. Agricultural associations in Apulia play an important role in the densely connected rural development network, promoting information flow and collective action. On the other hand, the weakness of this configuration lies in the fact that the rural development agenda can receive strong pressure from the agricultural sector, pushing more sectoral strategies in turn. Private companies play a key role in Veneto’s rural development, bridging the network gaps between more clustered local groups and increasing pluralism and inclusion. However, the network is sparse and shrinking, posing challenges in terms of coordination and collective action. This kind of evaluation makes policymakers and managers aware of both the most influential and weakest actors. This is crucial to improving the effectiveness and sustainability of the project, as they can involve the most influential groups from the early stages of the design process to ensure support as well as address the needs of the lagging stakeholder categories to reinforce tacit rules, trust, accountability, and responsibilities.

Stakeholder Empowerment in Sustainable Rural Development Partnerships: Two Case Studies from Italy

Esengulova N.;Carella M. M.;Lopolito A.
2023-01-01

Abstract

The funds allocated through the EU Rural Development Programme provided the engine for local stakeholders to interact, forming mixed collaboration partnerships. This paper investigates the structure of such partnerships with the aim of verifying whether (R1) there are significant differences between the various stakeholder categories in influencing the rural development process, and (R2) which categories of stakeholders are more empowered in directing the design of sustainable rural development. The study is focused on two Italian cases: the regions of Apulia and Veneto. Using a combination of SNA and nonparametric tests, the results demonstrate that the empowerment of the stakeholders followed unequal paths in the two cases; i.e., a central role is clearly played by economic associations in Apulia, while this power is more distributed between different kinds of stakeholders in the case of Veneto. Agricultural associations in Apulia play an important role in the densely connected rural development network, promoting information flow and collective action. On the other hand, the weakness of this configuration lies in the fact that the rural development agenda can receive strong pressure from the agricultural sector, pushing more sectoral strategies in turn. Private companies play a key role in Veneto’s rural development, bridging the network gaps between more clustered local groups and increasing pluralism and inclusion. However, the network is sparse and shrinking, posing challenges in terms of coordination and collective action. This kind of evaluation makes policymakers and managers aware of both the most influential and weakest actors. This is crucial to improving the effectiveness and sustainability of the project, as they can involve the most influential groups from the early stages of the design process to ensure support as well as address the needs of the lagging stakeholder categories to reinforce tacit rules, trust, accountability, and responsibilities.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11369/445789
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