Governance Capacity


Governance Capacity: Theoretical Concept

How can "governance capacity" be described?

A local society is liable to maintain and increase its "governance capacity":

  • when individuals share a common definition of what is the common interest, when there is strong social cohesion (complementarities between individuals and groups, balanced social stratification, feeling of solidarity),
  • when the local society and economy is various enough for allowing individuals to develop a wide range of (social and economic) roles and actions liable to facilitate the building of collective welfare,
  • when individuals have acquired a strong social capital (individual and collective resources generated by the relation networks implemented by every member of the local society).

Key Factors of Social Cohesion

The CIPRA expert group identified the following set of social issues which are supposed to be key factors of "social cohesion":
  • Social inclusion: social structure, welfare system, income inequalities, social capital, neighbourhood, local associations, trust among people, rootedness with the region
  • Gender: the role of women, gender balance, qualities of places according to women
  • Demographic evolution and attractiveness: population structure and change, education level, professions, ethnic and religious groups
  • Modes of government: political and administrative system, legislation, traditional patterns (land ownership), local initiatives, NGO’s, political participation, networks
  • Cultural identity: cultural heritage, authenticity, sense of place, sense of belonging
  • Innovation and attitude towards change: perception of given situations, optimistic or pessimistic views, innovation capacity
  • External relations: social impacts beyond local limits, networks with outside, cultural patterns, impacts of incomers and tourists, information technology, mass media
  • Infrastructure and services (including public services): accessibility of services, range of public services, internet technologies
  • Local economy: employment, job structure, commuting, relations between companies, individuals and entrepreneurs, local networks and initiatives
  • Territorial features: natural and physical environment, settlement structure, accessibility, territorial cohesion
Further Readings & Links

This study from Slovenia indicates that local communities are not necessarily homogeneous in terms of their resources, interests, needs and views on rural tourism development, and neither do they benefit equally from the development of tourism.

This paper focuses on the notion of endogenous development, a definition of which it tries to provide, despite a lack of "theoretical roots".

"Future in the Alps Workshop"
Workshop on cooperation between urban and rural areas (in French).

Attractiveness and Governance Capacity are Two Entirely Separate Phenomena

Innovative projects such as the Villa Kamilla in the town of Röthis (Austria) are one way to increase the social ability to act. The institution is a cooperation of eight municipalities in Voralberg. Children are supervised in the Villa Kamilla flexibly, depending on their working hours of their parents (Source: Frank Schultze / ZEITENSPIEGEL).
In the experts' opinion, the attractiveness of a location does not depend first and foremost on governance capacity; rather, it is determined mainly by job availability and business opportunities in the place and nearby, by the quality of local infrastructures and services and the quality of the environment.

Therefore: many depopulated areas may be very socially active as well as inactive, and areas with strong immigration flows display very rich or poor (and sometimes mean) social cohesion and innovative governance.

The attractiveness of the Alps for businesses, individuals and families is rarely linked to social dynamics, something which most people are unaware of or barely take into consideration. But while attractiveness can explain most of the migration trends, it does not explain the capacity of local people to develop good governance practices.

Often social cohesion and community interests have been undermined by the Alps’ economic development and the competition between players and communities.

Two important points need to be taken into account in this connection:
  • Remote and sparsely populated areas must remain accessible and connected to the outside world through modern communication technologies and be prepared to develop the social capital of the people living in those areas.
  • In attractive regions there must be an intensive social exchange between new citizens and old-established residents, and between opponents and advocates of tourism. Inhabitants must not let themselves withdraw into their own social groups.
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Based on several European case studies, this report focuses on the contributions of information technologies for the improvement of local development in rural areas.

SCHÜRCH (2002)
This paper presents the results of a research project that took place in a marginal area of Switzerland (Valposchiavo). The aim of the project was to bring ICT and e-learning to the region in order to reconnect it to the rest of the world.