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Title: Definition of a bottom-up rural development model as a governance instrument through the analysis of the rural development political strategies in the United Kingdom and in Italy : the cases of four Local Action Groups (LAGs) in Scotland, England, Emilia-Romagna region and Puglia region
Authors: Gargano, Giuseppe
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores the comparative evolution of rural development policies and Local Action Groups (LAGs) in UK and in Italy in a multi-level governance framework. It highlights the increasing importance of a bottom-up development approach. In the last few years, it has become widely accepted that there is a need to promote diversified and integral rural development with a strong emphasis on local solutions for local problems. National institutions cannot solve rural development problems alone. To this end, development policies for rural areas support the building of ‘local capacity' and cooperation in partnerships between the public, private and voluntary sectors with the aim to contribute to the implementation of rural development policies at various levels, supplementing decisions taken by national parliaments and local elected councils. In this context, LAGs and in particular their public-private local partnerships have become common practice in the governance of rural areas. This governance operates within the European Union LEADER approach (Liaison entre action de développement de l’économie rurale - Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) as a tool designed to generate the development of rural areas at local level. They operate within a structure and are responsible for devising and implementing rural development strategies for their areas by implying consensus, openness and an invitation to participate. The thesis draws on the experience of four EU LEADER LAGs/public private partnerships in order to understand the conditions, including political arrangements and actors, that facilitate or hinder their development and their workings. This thesis, using the Multi-Level Governance (MLG) approach, asks what are the conditions that facilitate the LAG approach, which flows from the bottom-up and utilises partnership approaches. In order to establish the implications of the LAG practices for rural development through a case study approach, the following main objectives for this research have been established: 1) to explore the utility of EU strategies for rural development; 2) to explain how LAGs structure, institutional arrangements and working are positioned in the layers of MLG framework when managing rural development; 3) to carry out a comparative evaluation of the LAGs working in the different nations and their subnational contexts. More specifically, the thesis conducts a focused case study comparison of four LAGs, operating in the United Kingdom (Argyll and the Islands LAG – Scotland and Coast, Wolds, Wetlands and Waterways LAG – England) and in Italy (Delta 2000 LAG – Emilia Romagna Region and Capo Santa Maria di Leuca LAG – iv Puglia Region). Each LAG has its own history, actors and specific ways to approach local partnerships. This comparison involves key elements (such as the reasons, influences and factors attributed to the initiation of the partnership, the involvement of the partners, and the difficulties and constraints found in the partnerships’ operations), as well as the common points and key differences of the politics at European, national and local level that shape each LAG. The empirical findings for each case study are based on fieldwork involving open-ended, qualitative interviews with local actors as well as documentation gathering. The main concerns of this institutional analysis of each case study are the process, the mechanism and condition of development, and the links between different elements such as policies and the role of actors. Some significant findings from the case studies are summarized in relation to these themes: the key characteristics and the outcomes associated with the LAG working mechanisms and what do we draw about the emergence, operation and performance of local partnerships. The core argument of the thesis is that the partnership approach inherent in the LAG approach has given the rural development actors a governance platform to help increase beneficial interactions and economic activity in each of these LAGs, but it is the bottom-up leadership of key local actors, seizing opportunities provided by the EU funding, which have been the most important factors for the LAG successes
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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