Explaining institutional dynamics within local partnerships: the case of ‘EQUAL II’ and ‘LEADER+’ in Crete

Grigoriadou, Despoina (2013) Explaining institutional dynamics within local partnerships: the case of ‘EQUAL II’ and ‘LEADER+’ in Crete. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This neo institutional study analyses the dynamic interaction between formal/informal rules and agents’ behaviour inside a political institution, examining these relationships through primary research on local partnerships in Greece.

The theoretical assumptions of this analysis derive mainly from normative neo institutionalism but also include insights from rational choice and the historical institutionalism. Consideration is also given to the way in which theories of the structure/agent duality are related to neo institutional propositions on the relationship between rules and agents’ strategic behaviour. The neo institutional approach to local partnerships is also situated in relation to concepts and empirical observations from the literature on urban governance, urban regimes and Europeanisation.

This research adopts the critical realism stance which acknowledges a reflexive approach to reality and it applies an embedded case study strategy. The case study consists of two local partnerships in the region of Crete, which were established under the EU Community Initiatives Programmes EQUAL II and LEADER+ and coordinated by the Local Development Agency of Heraklion. A triangulation method is selected, making use of interviews, storytelling, a short questionnaire, direct observation and secondary analysis of documentation.

The research data reveal that the formal rules of the partnerships are not indicative of what actually happens. It is the configuration of formal and informal rules that offers a deep understanding of partnership. It is concluded that some formal rules are realised (albeit with deviations along the way), like partnership and programming, while others are remained mostly on paper, like community participation, decentralisation and innovation. In these cases, the informal rules appear to be conflicting with the formal rules, leading to different results than those expected.

The research also shows the importance of agents' intentionality in the process of institutional change. Specific actors within the partnership, such as established local leaders and institutional entrepreneurs, select and reinforce particular features of formal rules that restrict partners’ freedom and promote values of efficiency within the partners.

Moreover, the findings confirm a gradual changing of local policy making and an increase of local social capital. EQUAL II and LEADER+ partnerships create new possibilities for the empowerment and participation of new actors such as NGOs and vulnerable groups in the local policy-making process. They also promote the establishment of policy networks and enhance the development of collaborative learning processes (trust building and sharing understanding). Finally, they lead to the re-articulation of mayors-chief executives’ relationship inside local authorities and of central state’s position by creating new possibilities for broadening local authorities’ autonomy.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Lowndes, V.
McLaren, L.
Keywords: local partnerships, local government, institutional dynamics, equal ii, leader+, greece, crete, eu
Subjects: J Political science > JS Local government. Municipal government
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Politics and International Relations
Item ID: 13055
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2013 08:55
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 14:36
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13055

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