Economics and Rural Development, Volume 9, Number 1

Decades of Practical Experience and Network Theory

Doris Marquardt
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe


Funded “Networking” has steadily gained importance among European Union (EU) rural policies instrumentation: Since 1991, with LEADER the formation of regional public-private partnerships and EU-wide information exchange has been supported. Later also inter-territorial cooperation was funded. Additionally, National Rural Networks interlinked at the European level and associating the implementation of rural interventions have recently been established. Networking activities are acknowledged as drivers for rural development. While it is true that good practices are assiduously collected, the deficit in systematically scrutinizing networking activ-ities and their underlying causal patterns is only filled by the present research. Applying network theory, the concept of social capital and transaction-costs considerations, this paper strives to investigate the relevance of financial support for networking, and whether the potential that networking theoretically offers could be exploited more sufficiently. In addition to its unique approach, the empiri-cal data underlying this research presents a novelty, as the various stakeholders surveyed across the EU in the period 2008-2010 in-clude potential LAGs and the newly established rural networks. Reviewing the literature and survey results, determinants for using the potential of networking interventions are identified, and the effects of different types of networking are discussed against finan-cial, technical and social inputs. The results reveal significant contributions that sociology can make to public policies, and can allow conclusions about designing external support to networking. The findings highlight that: 1) funding networking can be meaningful; 2) strongly funded networks tend to fail to create added value; 3) networking needs endogenously grown objectives; and 4) support-ing networking between regions technically is preferable to funding inter-regional partnerships.

Keyword(s): Networking, Rural Development Policies, Network theory, European Union, National Rural Networks


Adler P., Known S.W. (2002). Social Capital: Prospect for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27 (1), pp. 17–40.

Anand P., Pattanaik P.K., Puppe C. (2009). Introduction in The Handbook of Rational & Social Choice edited by P. Anand, P.K. Pattanaik, C. Puppe. UK: Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 1–20.

Badescu G., Sum P.E. (2005). Historical Legacies, Social Capital and Civil Society: Comparing Romania on a Region-al Level. Europe-Asia Studies 57 (1), pp. 117–133.

Blumenthal, J.V. (2005). Governance – eine kritische Zwischenbilanz (Governance – a Critical Interim Assess-ment). Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 15 (4), pp 1145–1180.

Bocher M. (2008). Regional Governance and Rural Development in Germany: the Implementation of LEADER+. So-ciologia Ruralis, 48 (4), pp. 372–388.

Bosworth G., Atterton J. (2012). Entrepreneurial In-migration and Neoendogenous Rural Development. Rural Sociology, 77 (2), pp. 254–279.

Bourdieu P. (1983). Okonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital (Economic Capital, Cultural Capital, Social Capital). Soziale Ungleichheiten edited by R. Kreckel, Schwartz, Göttingen, Germany, pp. 183–199.

CEMAC (1999). Ex-Post Evaluation of the LEADER I Community Initiative 1989–1993. Report Commissioned by the European Commission. Available at

Church M. (2006). Knots and Threads: the Power of Networks. Published by the National Colleague for School Leadership. Available at http://networkedlearning.

Coleman J.S. (1988). Social Capital in the Creation of Hu-man Capital. The American Journal of Sociology, 94, sup-plement, pp. 95–120.

Coleman J.S. (1990). Foundations of Social Theory, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Cooke P. (1996). Policy-Netzwerke, Innovationsnetzwerke und Regionalpolitik (Policy Networks, Innovation Networks and Regional Policy). Politiknetzwerke und europäische Strukturfondsförderung: Ein Vergleich zwischen EU Mitgliedstaaten edited by H. Heinelt, Leske + Budrich, Opladen, Germany, pp. 58–74.

Copus A.K. (2010). A Review of Planned and Actual Rural Development Expenditure in the EU 2007-2013: Assessing the Impact of Rural Development Policies (incl. LEADER). Deliverable D3.2 FP 7 Project no. 213034 funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technology De-velopment of the European Commission. Available at

Courades J.M. (2007). Rural Development Networking 2007–2013. Presentation at the Joint Meeting: LEADER+ Steering Committee, 31 January 2007, Brussels, Belgium.

Courades J.M. (2008). Synthesis of Member States Reports. Presentation at the LEADER+ Steering Committee Meeting, 12 March 2008, Brussels, Belgium.

Davies R. (2005). Scale, Complexity and the Representation of Theories of Change: Part II. Evaluation 11 (2), pp. 133–49.

De Bruijn J.A., Ten Heuvelhof E.F. (1995). Policy Networks and Governance. Institutional Design, edited by D.L. Wei-mer, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA, pp. 161–179.

[DG Agri] Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (2008). Rural Development in the European Union, Statistical and Economic Information Report 2008. Available at

[DG Agri] Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (2010). Rural Development in the European Union, Statistical and Economic Information Report 2010. Available at

[DG Agri] Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (2011a). Guide for Application of the LEAD-ER Axis of the Rural Development Programmes 2007–2013 funded by the EAFRD. Revised version as presented to the Rural Development Committee on 08.03.2011; finalized on 25.03.2011. Available at

[DG Agri] Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (2011b). Study on administrative burden reduc-tion associated with the implementation of certain Rural Development measures. Request for services. Under Framework contract No B3/ENTR/06/061 Final Report. 11 August 2011. Available at

Duguet D. (2006). Networking: The LEADER experience, Leader+ Observatory Contact Point, Brussels, Belgium.

Duguet D. (2008). Cooperation in LEADER+: The Actual Benefits for Local Areas. Presentation at the LEADER+ Steering Committee Meeting, 12 March 2008, Brussels, Bel-gium.

[DVS LEADER II] Deutsche Vernetzungsstelle LEADER II (2000). Kooperationen in regionalen Partnerschaften (Coop-eration within Regional Partnerships). LEADER II-Seminar, Pasewalk (Uecker-Randow). Seminar report 2000 (2), Deutsche Vernetzungsstelle LEADER II, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, February, pp. 23–25.

Earl S. (2004). A Strategic Evaluation of IDRC-Support to Networks or What’s it Take to Make a Network Work, if a Network Could Work Well?. International Development Re-search Centre, Ottawa, Canada.

[EC] European Commission (1994). Ein Leitfaden der Ge-meinschaftsinitiativen 1991–1994 (A guide for the Commu-nity Initiatives 1991–1994), European Commission, Luxem-bourg.

[EC] European Commission (1996). The Cork Declaration - A Living Countryside. Available at

[EC] European Commission (2005). Social Capital, Special Eurobarometer No 223.

[EC] European Commission (2006). The LEADER Ap-proach: A basis Guide. Factsheet. Office for Official Publica-tions of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

[ECA] European Court of Auditors (2010). Implementation of the LEADER Approach for Rural Development, Special Report No 5.

[EENRD] European Evaluation Network for Rural Devel-opment (2010). Working Paper on the Evaluation of National Rural Network Programmes. Available at

[ELARD] European LEADER Association for Rural Devel-opment (2011). ELARD Position Paper on the Court of Audi-tors Special Report no. 5 on Implementation of the LEADER Approach for Rural Development – 2010. Available at

[ELO] European LEADER Observatory (2001). Die grenzübergreifende Zusammenarbeit im Rahmen von LEADER II: Lehren aus der Vergangenheit, Instrumente für die Zukunft (Crossborder collaboration within LEADER II: Lessons from the past, Instruments for the future), ELO, Brussels, Belgium.

[ENRD] European Network for Rural Development, Contact Point (2009). National Rural Network Summary. Available at resourcecen-tre/compendium/nrnsummaryinformation/index_en.htm.

Ethering A. (2005). Guides, Tools and Methods for Evaluat-ing Networks. Working Paper prepared for the Annual Learn-ing Forum, 5. April 2005. Evaluation Unit, International De-velopment Research Center, Ottawa, Canada.

Farrell G. (2000). The Added Value of LEADER. LEADER Magazine, No. 23. Available at

Farrell G., Thirion S. (2005). Social Capital and Rural Devel-opment: From Win-Lose to Win-Win with the LEADER Ini-tiative. Winning and losing: the changing geography of Eu-rope’s rural areas edited by D. Schmied. Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, UK, pp. 281–298.

Frank K.A., Zhao Y., Borman K. (2004). Social Capital and the Diffusion of Innovations within Organizations: The Case of Computer Technology in Schools. Sociology of Education, 77 (2), pp. 148–171.

Furmankiewicz M., Thompson N., Zielinska M. (2010). Ar-ea-Based Partnerships in Rural Poland: The Post-Accession Experience. Journal of Rural Studies, 26 (1), pp. 52–62.

Geibendorfer M. (2005). Evaluation von Programmen und Konzepten der landlichen Strukturentwicklung dargestellt am Beispiel der EU-Gemeinschaftsinitiative LEADER (Evalua-tion of Programs and Concepts for Rural Structural Devel-opment – the Example of the EU Community Initiative LEADER). PhD dissertation, Department of Economics of Farming, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

Giddens A. (1991). The Consequences of Modernity, Policy Press, Cambridge, UK.

Grabher G. (1993). The Weakness of Strong Ties: The Lock of Regional Development in the Ruhr Area. The Embedded Firm – on the Socioeconomics of Industrial Networks edited by G. Grabher, Routledge, London, UK, pp. 253–255.

Heinelt H. (1996). Politiknetzwerke und europaische Strukturfondsforderung. Ein Vergleich zwischen EU-Mitgliedstaaten (Policy Networks and European Structural Funds Support. A Comparison between EU Member States), Leske + Budrich, Opladen, Germany.

High C., Nemes G. (2007). Social Learning in LEADER: Exogenous, Endogenous and Hybrid Evaluation in Rural De-velopment. Sociologia Ruralis, 47 (3), pp. 103–119.

Huber W. (2005). Federal Co-ordination in Austria. New Approaches to Rural Policy: Lessons from around the world edited by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), OECD, Paris, France, pp. 61–65.

Hudeckova H., Balzerova H. (2010). The Adaptability of Stakeholders to New Approaches in Rural Development in the Czech Republic. Agris on-line Papers in Economics and Informatics, 2 (2), pp. 3–13.

Inkpen A.C., Tsang E.W.K. (2005). Social Capital, Net-works, and Knowledge Transfer. The Academy of Manage-ment Review, 30 (1), pp. 146–165.

Jansen D. (2000). Netzwerke und soziales Kapital: Methoden zur Analyse struktureller Einbettung (Networks and Social Capital: Methods for Analyzing Structural Embeddedness). Soziale Netzwerke edited by J. Weyer, Oldenbourg Wissen-schaftsverlag, Munich, Germany, pp. 36–61.

Jansen D., Wald A. (2007). Netzwerktheorien (Network theo-ries). Pp. 188-199 in Handbuch Governance: Theoretische Grundlagen und empirische Anwendungsfelder edited by A. Benz, S. Lutz, U. Schimank and G. Simonis, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Munich, Germany.

Johnson B. (1995). Towards a New Approach to National Systems of Innovation. National Systems of Innovation: To-wards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning edited by B.A. Lundvall, Pinter Publishers, London, UK, pp. 23–44

Johnson C. (2003). A Model of Social Capital Formation, Social Research and Demonstration Corporation. SRDC Working Paper Series 03-01, Nova Scotia, Canada.

LEADER Observatory (w.y.). LEADER+ Member State files. Available at

Lee J., Arnason A., Nightingale A., Shucksmith M. (2005). Networking: Social Capital and Identities in European Rural Development. Sociologia Ruralis 45 (4), pp. 269–283.

Lin N. (2001). Social Capital: A theory of Social Structure and Action, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

[LSEPS] London School of Economics and Political Science (2007). Social Cohesion, Trust and Participation: Social Capital, Social Policy and Social Cohesion in the European Union and Candidate Countries, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.

Mandl I., Oberholzner T., Dorflinger C. (2007). Social Capi-tal and Job Creation in Rural Europe. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin, Ireland.

Marquardt D. (2011). Rural Networks in the Funding Period 2007-2013: A Critical Review of the EU Policy Instrument. IAMO Discussion Paper No. 133. Leibniz Institute for Agri-cultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Halle/Saale, Germany.

Marquardt D., Hubbard C. (2011). Implementing a National Rural Network: Challenges for Romania. Paper presented at the XIIIth Congress of the EAAE: Change and Uncertainty – Challenges for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Zurich, Switzerland, 30.08. – 02.09.2011. Available at

Marquardt D., Mollers J., Buchenrieder G. (2012). Social Networks and Rural Development: LEADER in Romania. Sociologia Ruralis, 52 (4), pp. 398–431.

Mateju P., Vitaskova A. (2006). Interpersonal Trust and Mu-tually Beneficial Exchanges: Measuring Social Capital for Comparative Analyses. Czech Sociological Review 42 (3), pp. 493–516.

Metis GmbH and Subcontractors AEIDL and CEU (2010). Ex-post Evaluation of LEADER + Study Commissioned un-der the Contract N 30-CE-0321257/00-26, European Com-mission, Brussels, Belgium.

Mihalache R. (2009). Evaluation Networking in Romania. Evaluation 15 (4), pp. 473–482.

Milczarek-Andrzejewska D., Wolek T., Lopaciuk-Gonczaryk B. (2011). The Role of Social Capital and Informal Coopera-tion: Market Integration of Farms in Poland. Structural Change in Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods: Policy impli-cations for the new member states of the European Union ed-ited by J. Mollers, G. Buchenrieder and C. Csaki. Studies on the Agricultural and Food Sector in Central and Eastern Eu-rope, Vol. 61, Halle/Saale, Germany: Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), pp. 159–180.

Moseley M.J. (2003). Local Partnerships for Rural Develop-ment: The European Experience, CABI Publishing, London, UK.

Murray C. (2008). Social Capital and Cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe: A Framework for Research on Govern-ance. Journal of Rural Cooperation, 36 (1), pp. 3–20.

Nardone G., Sisto R., Lopolito A. (2010). Social Capital in the LEADER Initiative: a Methodological Approach. Journal of Rural Studies, 26 (1), pp. 63–72.

Nelson J., Farrington J. (1994). Information Exchange Net-working for Agricultural Development: A review of Con-cepts and Practices, CTA, Ede, The Netherlands.

[OECD] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and De-velopment (2006). The New Rural Paradigm: Policies and Governance. OECD Policy Review. OECD Publishing, Paris, France.

OIR (Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning) (2003). Ex-post Evaluation of the Community Ini-tiative LEADER II: Final Report, commissioned by the Eu-ropean Commission. Available at

Parissaki M., Humphreys E. (2005). Regional Social Capital in Europe, European Foundation for the Improvement of Liv-ing and Working Conditions, Dublin, Ireland.

[PC] Productivity Commission (2003). Social Capital: Review-ing the Concept and its Policy Implications. Research Paper. AusInfo, Canberra, Australia.

Peters B.G. (2000). Policy Instruments and Public Manage-ment: Bridging the Gaps. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 10 (1), pp. 35–48.

Portes A. (1998). Social Capital: Its Origins and Applications in Modern Sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24 (1), pp. 1–24.

Powell W.W. (1990). Neither Market nor Hierarchy: Net-work Forms of Organization. Research in Organizational Be-haviour, 12, pp. 295–336.

Putnam R. (1993). Making Democracy Work: Civic tradi-tions in modern Italy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Ray C. (2001). Transnational Co-operation between Rural Areas: Elements of a Political Economy of EU Rural Devel-opment. Sociologia Ruralis, 41 (3), pp. 279–295.

Ray C. (2006). Neo-Endogenous Development in the EU. Handbook of Rural studies edited by P.J. Cloke, J. Marsden and P.H. Mooney, Sage, London, UK, pp. 278–291.

Rogers P.J. (2008). Using Programme Theory to Evaluate Complicated and Complex Aspects of Interventions. Evalua-tion14 (1), pp. 29–48.

Russo M., Rossi F. (2009). Cooperation Networks and Inno-vation: A Complex Systems Perspective to the Analysis and Evaluation of a Regional Innovation Policy Programme. Evaluation 15 (1), pp. 75–100.

Ryan V.D., Agnitsch K.A., Zhao L., Mullick R. (2005). Mak-ing Sense of Voluntary Participation: A Theoretical Synthe-sis. Rural Sociology, 70 (3), pp. 287–313.

Sachs C.E. (2007). Going Public: Networking Globally and Locally. Rural Sociology, 79 (1), pp. 2–24.

Scharpf F.W. (2000). Interaktionsformen: Akteurszentrierter Institutionalismus in der Politikforschung (Forms of Interac-tion: Actor-Centered Institutionalism in Policy Research), Leske + Budrich, Opladen, Germany.

Schenk M. (1984). Soziale Netzwerke und Kommunikation (Social Networks and Communication), Mohr/ Paul Siebeck, Tubingen, Germany.

Schuh B., Todtling-Schonhofer H., Wimmer H., Lukesch R., Vercruysse J.P., O’Grady S. (2006). Synthesis of Mid-Term Evaluations of LEADER+ programmes, Final Report, com-missioned by the European Commission. Available at

Sedult U. (2005). Soziale Netzwerkanalyse in der Politikwis-senschaft (Social network analysis in policy sciences). An-wendungen Sozialer Netzwerkanalyse edited by U. Sedült. Zürcher Politik- & Evaluationsstudien No 3, Institute of Poli-cy Sciences, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, pp. 9–24.

Segert A., Zierke I. (2004). Landliche Netzwerke: Institution-alisierungsprozesse und Milieuformationen (Rural Networks: Processes of Institutionalization and the Formation of Mi-lieus), VS Verlag fur Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Sharp J. (2001). Locating the Community Field: A Study of Interorganizational Network Structure and Capacity for Community Action. Rural Sociology, 66 (3), pp. 403–424.

Shucksmith M. (2000). Endogenous Development, Social Capital and Social Inclusion: Perspectives from LEADER in the UK. Sociologia Ruralis, 40 (2), pp. 208–218.

Shucksmith M. (2010). Disintegrated Rural Development? Neo-Endogenous Rural Development, Planning and Place-Shaping in Diffused Power Contexts. Sociologia Ruralis, 50 (1), pp. 1–14.

Shucksmith M., Thompson K.J., Roberts D. (2005). The CAP and the Regions – the territorial impact of the Common Agricultural Policy, CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.

Siebert H. (2006). Okonomische Analyse von Unterneh-mensnetzwerken (Economic analyzis of business networks). Management von Netzwerkorganisationen: Beitrage aus der “Managementforschung” edited by J. Sydow, Gabler, Wies-baden, Germany, pp. 7–28.

Sousa Uva J.M. (2008). Presentation of the European Net-work for Rural Development and its Contact Point. Presenta-tion at the Conference ‘Europe’s rural areas in action: facing the challenges of tomorrow’, 16-17 October 2008, Cyprus.

Stenlas N. (1999). Organisation, Management and Social Networks: Theories of Relevance to Partnerships. Local Part-nerships and Rural Development in Europe: A Literature Re-view of Practice and Theory edited by E. Westholm, M. Moseley and N. Stenlas, Dalarna Research Institute, Falun, Sweden, pp. 209–228.

Torok J. (2008). Facts and Figures on Cooperation under the LEADER+ Initiative, Presentation at the LEADER+ Steering Committee Meeting, 12 March 2008, Brussels, Belgium; supplemented by a non-published statistical data set.

[UoG] University of Gloucestershire (2008). Review of Rural Development Instruments: DG Agri project 2006-G4-10, Fi-nal Report 7, July 2008. Available at

Wade P., Rinne P. (2008). A LEADER Dissemination Guide Book based on Programme Experience in Finland, Ireland and the Czech Republic, Final Report of the Transnational LEADER Dissemination Project for the Finnish Rural Policy Committee. Rural Policy Committee, Vammala, Finland.

Wagenaar H. (2007). Governance, Complexity, and Demo-cratic Participation: How Citizens and Public Officials Har-ness the Complexities of Neighborhood Decline. The Ameri-can Review of Public Administration, 37 (1), pp. 17–50.

Wald A. (2011). Sozialkapital als theoretische Fundierung re-lationaler Forschungsansatze (Social Capital as Theoretical Foundation of Relational Research Approaches). Zeitschrift fur Betriebswirtschaft, 81 (1), pp. 99–126.

Wasserman S., Faust K. (1994). Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Uni-versity Press.

Weiligmann B. (1999). Information Exchange in Networks: Analysis of Individual Communication Behaviour and Communication Structure. Arbeiten zur Agrarwirtschaft in Entwicklungsländern, Wissenschaftsverlag Vauk, Kiel, Ger-many.

Woolcock M., Narayan D. (2000). Social Capital: Implica-tions for Development Theory, Research, and Policy. World Bank Research Observer, 15 (2), pp. 225–249.

World Bank (1998). The Initiative on Defining, Monitoring and Measuring Social Capital: Overview and Program De-scription. Social Capital Initiative Working Paper, No 1. The World Bank, Washington D.C.

Zurker M. (2004). Promotion of regional development through interregional co-operation with the Accession Countries of the Enlargement of the European Union: The example of the South West of England region. In Materialien zur Regionalentwicklung und Raumordnung, Vol. 10 edited by G. Troeger, Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Economics and Rural Development ISSN 1822-3346 / eISSN 2345-0347

This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Responsible editors: Prof. Dr Vilija Alekneviciene, Dr Gunita Mazure.