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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 [3] 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 [4] (at the local as well as regional/national and European levels) to determine the added value of LEADER's specific features.


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 approach)
  • Networking (at regional, national and European level) and transnational cooperation.
  • 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 institutions);

  • 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 [5], 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:

  • definition
  • 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 approaches;
  • 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.


[3] Certain terms will be explained in footnotes utilising
the definitions contained in a glossary on evaluation
to be published shortly by the European Commission.

[4] 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.

[5] Internal evaluation: an evaluation
carried out on the initiative of the local group
with the objective of improving its capacity to
stimulate local development.

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