Local development strategies for inner areas in Italy. A comparative analysis based on plan documents

Gabriella Punziano, Giulia Urso


Within the huge literature on local development policies produced across different disciplines, comparatively little attention has been paid to an important element as relevant as economic, financial and social capital: the cognitive element, needed in strategic thinking and complexity management, the “collective brain” guiding the decision-making process. In this paper, we investigate what we consider a direct “proxy” for this variable, which is supposed to incorporate that “usable knowledge” assisting those making policy choices: language. Language shapes the way problems are conceived, fixes priorities and delimits the range of strategic options. More specifically, our research question inquires which contextual factors are at stake in local development strategy design. The case studies were chosen among the pilot areas included in the Italian “National Strategy for Inner Areas”. Through a multidimensional content analysis of the plan documents available online, we explored the ways in which development strategies are locally interpreted. The techniques we used allowed us to make a comparative analysis, testing three effects that could have influenced local policy design: a geographical effect, a concept/policy transfer effect, and a framing effect. Broader, interesting reflections were drawn from research findings on the local embedded ability to designing consistent and effective development strategies.


Inner areas; Local development strategies; Policy design; Content and text analysis; National Strategy for Inner Areas (SNAI).

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Copyright (c) 2016 Gabriella Punziano, Giulia Urso

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ISSN: 2239-267X

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