[ Summary ]
Analysing an area’s social competitiveness
2.4 Implicit/explicit know-how and skills
Above and beyond the know-how itself and the skills available in
an area, it is the ability of local players to harness them and
exploit their potential that determines social competitiveness. In
fact know-how is often scattered, ignored, or even scorned. It is
also compartmentalised, disconnected or possessed by different
people or institutions that have difficulty in pooling their
skills to promote new ideas and projects.
How then is it possible to progress from scattered and
disconnected know-how to collective and potentially competitive
know-how? This is a key to social competitiveness, i.e. the
ability of the players in an area to take effective joint action.
It raises a number of questions:
- How is it possible to identify know-how that has been
forgotten or is even dying out but which has the potential for
innovation and revival?
At Robertsfors (Västerbotten, Sweden), 17 farmers’ wives grouped
together to exploit their traditional know-how and culinary
inventiveness to form a collective catering service producing
ready-made meals for sale.
- How is it possible to capitalise on such know-how and give
it a dimension suited to current-day needs?
The revival and adaptation of old skills for new market niches has
very often been a key factor of LEADER group strategies. For
example, four LEADER groups (Valle Elvo from the Piemonte region
and Anglona Monte Acuto from Sardinia, together with ADRI
Valladolid and Montanas del Teleno in Castilla-Leon) set up a
transnational cooperation project to recover and modernise
techniques for processing wool from breeds of sheep whose wool was
no longer used because it was too coarse. By modernising ancient
washing, spinning and dyeing techniques, it became possible to use
the wool for special products such as blankets, insulation
material, etc. This kindled an interest among young people for an
activity that before was considered marginal.
- How is it possible to identify the players with such know-
how and to optimise it?
Often those with traditional know-how that is dying out are
elderly people who have never had the chance to pass on their
skills. Using people like this to train young people is not only a
means of reviving forgotten know-how, but it also provides people
with renewed social recognition.
- How is it possible to define, locate and harness the
complementary skills that the area needs?
- How is it possible to identify the training needs that may
lead to the area’s revival and to organise such training, based on
local human resources, etc.?
- How is it possible to ensure that the skills of people in
difficulty are taken into account, in a perspective of social
An area’s capital in terms of know-how and skills does not simply
involve a list of technical know-how, but the actual ability of
the area’s players to collectively recognise such know-how,
identify new requirements for knowledge and research, find out
where such know-how exists and organise transfers of know-how. In
brief, it is what could be termed “social know-how”, a
prerequisite for governance and social competitiveness.
Social dialogue for training
“Social dialogue for training” is an essential form of social
know-how. It may be practised in a business firm, village, or
area. It means gathering the different partners concerned around
the negotiating table (e.g. at the level of a district, these
would be inhabitants, elected representatives, associations, etc.)
to enable them to jointly identify training needs.
This is the reverse of imposing training from above which often
fails to meet real needs and has no innovation potential. On the
contrary, social dialogue for training leads to the emergence of
collective and consensual projects and allows relevant training
provision to be set up.