Within the scope of the last two stages of rural development programming, the Campania Region has introduced significant innovations in the field of integrated intervention strategies in rural areas by implementing an Integrated Rural Project (IRP). This programme led to a new organizational model for public intervention in rural areas. This key it has given the opportunity of trying out participatory/integrated development processes in rural areas (Leader method) which have now become an integral part of routine programming (Leader Axes and Collective Action Projects 2007-2013), through the management of integrated rural development policies by local partnerships. The strategic mission of IRPs has been that of intervening, by means of a partnership approach, in the main issues which limit competitive capacity within regional rural areas. The IRPs act as models for collective and integrated action for programmed intervention on a territorial basis. Their dual aim is to endorse a system of local governance and to promote integration and coordination between rural development policy and other policies. In light of what has been stated above, this paper aims to develop an impact assessment of integrated rural policy in the Campania region with the objective of evaluating: the overall levels of efficiency reached compared to ‘traditional’ programming models; the ‘quality’ of negotiation processes and of the new relationship networks which derive from them; models and best practices, in terms of financial/implementation efficiency and programmatic effectiveness, with a view to their transfer into the 2014-2020 programming period; the effective possibility that the model represents a concrete and effective opportunity for the promotion of selfgovernance on an intra-regional scale. Each of these elements has allowed us to evaluate the effectiveness of the method on a territorial level and, consequently, the impact on the enhancement of the overall efficiency and effectiveness of locally implemented rural development strategies, on the reconfiguration of the local governance system and, more generally, on the involvement of rural communities in development processes. The methodological framework took the regional administrative databases as a starting point and carried out qualitative investigation through focus groups (constituted in each territorial reference environment of the 15 regional IRPs), made up of members of the local partnerships and beneficiaries of the Programme who were requested to express their opinion with regard to specific topics of discussion. The results of this study have allowed us to gain useful insights into the efficiency of expenditure and the effectiveness of rural development policies in terms of territorial readjustment and socio-economic impact. In the context of the present-day crisis, such results provide useful consideration for worthwhile scientific debate together with normative guidance for decision makers with a view to the next stage of rural development programming (2014-2020).
Keywords: Integration approach, local governance, rural development policy
Jel Code: Q18, Q19, O22