[ Summary ]
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
- 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
- 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.