[ Index ]
Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Questions and evaluation issues for each specific feature
3.3. The local group
Under LEADER II, the "local action group" (LAG) is a combination of
public and private partners who devise a common strategy and
innovative actions for the development of a rural area. These
partners should represent leading figures in the economic and social
life of the area, and the various sectors and associations concerned
with the environment, culture and social integration.
The "other collective bodies" are more thematic in their orientation
but they must also have an integrated strategy, around their theme
of intervention, for the rural development of an area.
These local groups may have been set up ad-hoc or may have existed
already. They generally decide the direction and content of the
rural innovation programme; they make decisions on the different
actions to be financed; in certain cases, they directly implement
these decisions; in others, the actual payments are made by an
organisation charged with managing subsidies from public funds.
The LAG, which is neither a public nor private sector body, is one
of the most original and strategic specific features introduced by
the LEADER Initiative. Endowed with decision-making power and a
relatively important budget, the LAG usually represents a new form
of organisation which can significantly influence the institutional
and political balance of the area.
3.3.2 Motivation and expected results
The main reason for delegating the management of LEADER to the local
groups is based on the expectation that they would be more effective
in stimulating local initiative than existing administrations and
agencies. In many cases, a long history of sectoral and top-down
policies has led to a lack of organisation and dynamism in rural
A local action group is expected to:
- draw together the "living strengths" of an area around a joint
- have decision-making autonomy and a capacity to take a fresh
look at local resources;
- link the different measures;
- be flexible in their management;
- be capable of seizing the opportunities offered by the local
mix of resources;
- be more susceptible to innovative ideas;
- be able to integrate and deal with separate sectoral
A second type of motivation is that the constitution of groups,
especially where the local level of the public administration is not
very well structured, should reinforce decentralisation to
subregional level and increase the degree of subsidiarity. A wide
representation of all local interest groups within the LAG is
requisite in order to ensure a holistic and multi-sectoral
perspective on the one hand and the diversification of the rural
economy on the other.
3.3.3 Main questions and issues:
a) the initial situation:
- Did the local group exist before LEADER?
- What was its mission?
- Was it related to rural development?
- Has it been adapted or modified?
- Which procedure was followed for constituting the LAG? (choice
of partners, sectors or groups included or excluded);
- Have there been any big changes to the membership?
- Did the LAG employ its own staff and/or share its personnel
with other agencies or administrations?
- What legal status did the LAG choose?
b) the processes
- Was there a real degree of autonomy in the decision-making
capacity of the LAG? Did it acquire legitimacy and recognition
through its operations? How?
- Did the LAG have adequate representation of all local
interests? (any predominant interest: public, private, political,
- Did the constitution of a local action group influence the
recognition of needs and problems? Did this lead to the choice of
different strategies and actions in relation to previous practice?
- Was the method of decision-making used appropriate? Was the
staff sufficient, qualified and motivated?
c) the results and impact
- In which way did the constitution and operation of the LAG:
- influence other existing public institutions? (facilitation of
inter-sectoral exchanges between agencies, political cohesion
- influence local players? (new organisations and relationships,
strengthening of negotiating capacity in conflicting situations,
redefinition of common interests and identity, cooperative and
social cohesion effect)
- stimulate new activities? (resource mobilisation effect)
- did the constitution of the LAG have an empowerment effect at
the local level?
- has the LAG experience generated an imitation or a transfer of
this model to other agencies or other programmes? (demonstration
effect, model function)
- Have any negative effects been identified?
d) the lessons
- were periodic self-evaluations on the effectiveness of the LAG
carried out? By the management board?
- what lessons may be drawn for consolidating the local action
group in terms of effective management, the organisation of
consensus and the mobilisation of resources (what has worked well
and what should be avoided)? Should new partners join?