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Altering the Evaluation Design for Rural Policies

From Standardisation Towards Social Innovation

Thomas Dax, Theresia Oedl-Wieser, Wibke Strahl-Naderer

With increasing policy priority for a larger set of instruments available to Rural Development Programmes the focus on monitoring and evaluation increased substantially. Against the highly diversified experience with regard to the implementation of policy instruments, the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework has been set up by the European Commission as a strategic and streamlined method of evaluating programmes’ impacts. Its indicator-based approach mainly reflects the concept of a linear, measure-based intervention logic that is aimed primarily on a system of European comparison. However, it falls short of the true nature of Rural Development Programme operation and impact capacity on rural changes. Besides the different phases of the policy process, i.e. policy design, delivery and evaluation, the regional context with its specific set of challenges and opportunities seems critical to the understanding and improvement of programme performance. In particular the role of local actors can hardly be grasped by quantitative indicators alone, but has to be addressed by assessing processes of social innovation. This requires a shift in the evaluation focus which underpins the need to take account of regional implementation specificities and processes of social innovation as decisive elements for programme performance.

Thomas Dax and Theresia Oedl-Wieser, Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas, Vienna, Austria; Wibke Strahl-Naderer, Regionalmanagement Niederösterreich – Büro Industrieviertel, Katzelsdorf, Austria.


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