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Social competitiveness

[ Summary ]


Chapter 3:
Improving social competitiveness


3.1 Creating a collective dynamic around social competitiveness


3.1.1 Turning each intervention into a coordination tool

For LEADER groups, part of the strategy for improving social competitiveness is to use each intervention as a coordination tool. In fact any intervention in the field - territorial assessment, training, vocational guidance, project selection or funding - is a potential tool for mobilising support, cohesion and social structuring, not only in terms of content but also in terms of the way it is implemented.

The group is able to encourage:

  • competition between personal expectations and collective interests, in order to allow opinions to be expressed in all their diversity, including through conflict;

  • cooperation between players, by highlighting common interests and boosting the ability for collective action at all levels;

  • the participation of all those concerned by a given problem and its solution, by exploiting and respecting diversity, even if this means positive discrimination in favour of weaker or marginalised groups;

  • subsidiarity, by delegating as much responsibility as possible to the players directly concerned by the action.


3.1.2 Finding effective methods of mobilising support

a) Creating a “win/win” situation wherever possible

    Many key players work towards change only if they themselves stand to benefit in some way. Negotiating solutions from a “win/win” perspective often makes it possible to break deadlock situations. There are two possible methods of consultation: either to find the largest common denominator or a single interest that unites all of the specific interests. Note that in cases where it is impossible to ensure that all players come out winners, it is a good idea to provide a mechanism to compensate the losers.

b) Gaining acceptance for the idea of risk-sharing/support

    Any initiative, especially an innovative one, involves a certain amount of risk and not only financially. In a rural area where everybody knows one another, risk-taking can lead to a loss of standing, in the event of failure, and to other people’s jealousy, in the event of success. In this respect, the risk of exclusion is much more serious in rural areas than in urban areas, where anonymity is generally the rule.

    Even though the size of the risk obviously depends on the scale of the planned venture, it is nevertheless true to say that in rural areas, especially isolated ones, every venture involves a large measure of risk, whereas the means (especially financial) available to the players in order to cope with that risk are often limited. The gap must therefore be filled by a financial mechanism for harnessing public funds.

    Putting the players into contact with one another and with institutions at the right level for their project makes it possible to introduce a degree of pooling both risk and forms of support. Such risk-sharing also includes co-financing, which LEADER is well placed to organise.

c) Appealing to the players’ sense of responsibility

    Due to the social and institutional position they occupy, local players are to varying degrees always responsible for the resources and development of their area, even if such responsibility is seldom explicitly stated. Collective assumption of some of these responsibilities can sometimes be used as a lever to secure the local players’ support for a particular measure.

    Appealing to the sense of responsibility of owners of resources that are tied up and under-exploited (land, buildings) can, for example, be a means of reawakening in them a form of attachment to the natural or architectural heritage, which can prompt the owners to bring it back to life.


3.1.3 Devising and employing consultation techniques

Consultation plays a fundamental role inter alia in:

  • breaking former deadlocks - events which “nobody should talk about”, historical divides between families, political parties and social classes - that can smother any seeds of change just as they start to “germinate”;

  • achieving the right social scale, by creating links and cooperation networks for managing risk, reducing the unit cost of access to a service or market and choosing the most suitable social configuration for the action.

Note that local consultation does not mean that all players must be in agreement. Its aim is to create or consolidate a “local culture of confidence” that makes it possible to:

  • take advantage of the creative force of individuals in order to build a collective project;

  • provide opportunities to the most innovative players without depriving others of the available resources;

  • rapidly seize the opportunities that arise and jointly ensure that they are exploited;

  • combine interests and know-how in an alternative way;

  • manage the tensions between cooperation and competition, public and private, individual and collective, private and social economies, sectorial and cross-sectorial approaches and the rural and urban worlds.

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