Application of a Comprehensive Methodology for the Evaluation of Social Innovations in Rural Communities

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Despite the growing interest in social innovation (SI) in agriculture, the literature lacks validated tools for evaluating such initiatives. This paper provides an empirical application of the evaluation approach developed within the H2020 SIMRA project to a pilot experience conducted in a rural area of Southern Italy. The value added by this case study is the application of the five types of criteria used by the OECD for the evaluation of development programmes, which are commonly referred to as REEIS: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability.

This experiment demonstrates the adequacy of the evaluation framework in identifying strengths and weaknesses of the initiative, according to a multifaceted perspective. The overall evaluation proves that most indicators fall under the high (48%) and medium categories (36%), and only few indicators are low (16%). The usefulness of the evaluation results is manifold.

Firstly, this evaluation highlights relevant arguments to support the communication strategy addressed at civil society, therefore reinforcing the civic engagement of the initiative, which is the distinctive feature of SI. Secondly, it supports project managers in addressing interventions to face emerging weaknesses. Finally, the evaluation provides factual evidence to policy makers to perform cost-effective analysis of rural development policies. 
 

Full reference

Baselice, A.; Prosperi, M.; Marini Govigli, V.; Lopolito, A. 2021. Application of a Comprehensive Methodology for the Evaluation of Social Innovations in Rural CommunitiesSustainability, 13, 1807. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041807