Social learning in LEADER: Exogenous, endogenous and hybrid evaluation in rural development

High, Chris and Nemes, Gusztáv (2007). Social learning in LEADER: Exogenous, endogenous and hybrid evaluation in rural development. Sociologia Ruralis, 47(2) pp. 103–119.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9523.2007.00430.x

Abstract

This paper considers the relationship between the centralised exogenous, institutions and the embedded, endogenous institutions of rural governance in Europe through an examination the evaluation procedures of the European LEADER programme. LEADER is presented in the literature as progressive in terms of innovation and stakeholder engagement. Yet while the planning and management of LEADER embraces heterogeneity and participation, programmatic evaluation is centralised and held at arms length from delivery organisations. The paper reviews previous efforts to improve evaluation in LEADER and considers alternative strategies for evaluation, contrasting LEADER practice with participatory evaluation methodologies in the wider international context. Can evaluation in itself be valuable as a mode of social learning and hence a driver for endogenous development in rural communities in Europe? The paper concludes by examining the challenges in producing a hybrid form of evaluation which accommodates endogenous and exogenous values.

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