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Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Objectives and contents of the dossier
This dossier has two main objectives:
- to propose common guidelines for evaluating  the unique
aspects of the LEADER Initiative. These are referred to as "specific
features" in the text. The implementation of all of these specific
features is what produces the "added value" of the LEADER approach.
- to put forward the first elements of a method which might
satisfy the evaluation needs of the programme's different
stakeholders  (at the local as well as regional/national and
European levels) to determine the added value of LEADER's specific
Contents of the dossier
7 specific features
Seven core specific features have been identified as characteristic
of the LEADER approach:
- The area-based approach
- The bottom-up approach
- The local group
- The innovative character of actions
- The linkage between actions (integrated and multi-sectoral
- Networking (at regional, national and European level) and
- Methods of management and financing
The results produced by the combination of the specific features
form what can be called the added value of the LEADER approach.
Placed in the local context
The analysis of each specific feature is first placed in a framework
of characteristics comprising:
- the area (physical characteristics, local players, local
- the action plan decided at the local level (or "rural
innovation programme" in LEADER II terminology).
Different needs and complementarities
The information and evaluation needs of the different stakeholders
are then presented. The analysis starts from the hypothesis that the
focus of each level is different:
- The local group may wish to obtain, thanks perhaps to an
internal evaluation , an analysis of its own activities in order to
improve its future performance. It may also want to have succinct
information which can be given to other levels to provide
accountability in terms of actions and expenditure.
- The regional, national and European levels would most likely
want to present the results of different groups (or regions or
Member States depending on the level) and to evaluate the technical
assistance provided to the groups. They may also wish to know what
the impact of the Initiative has been and whether LEADER's specific
features can make development actions more effective than other
development methods and policies.
The analysis of the specific features from the local viewpoint
Having established the general framework, each specific feature is
analysed in a systematic fashion from a local viewpoint:
- motivation for their introduction in LEADER
- expected impact of each specific feature
- key questions for evaluating processes, results and impact.
The analysis of the specific features from the point of view of the other levels
Some complementary questions are put forward to respond to the
supposed needs of the other levels (regional, national, European).
- Identification of best practice by comparing different
- Evaluation of external resources supplied by these levels;
- Assessment of the rules and procedures established by the
different levels of management (the "rules of the game").
In conclusion, the dossier puts forward a range of questions aiming
to identify the main lessons from the LEADER experience for the
benefit of other rural development policies, and to identify and
promote examples of best practice.
Certain terms will be explained in footnotes utilising
the definitions contained in a glossary on evaluation
to be published shortly by the European Commission.
Stakeholders: individuals, groups or organisations
with an interest in evaluated interventions or in
the evaluation itself and notably authorities that
have decided and financed the intervention, managers,
operators, spokespersons of the public concerned.
Internal evaluation: an evaluation
carried out on the initiative of the local group
with the objective of improving its capacity to
stimulate local development.