Accountability and rural development partnerships: a study of Objective 5b EAGGF funding in South West England
Journal of Rural Studies
Funding for Rural Development Partnerships has signalled a shift in rural policy, towards actively involving the rural population in determining the direction and implementation of change. However, early experience with partnerships has indicated that the funding bodies have retained significant control. One reason for this is that they are constrained by their accountability requirements. Furthermore, with not all members of the partnership accountable to the same degree, the funding bodies bear a significant proportion of the risk of new ventures which can result in conservative decisions. A study of the EAGGF component of an EU Objective 5b Programme in the South West of England highlights the tensions that can arise in a partnership from existing accounting arrangements. The lack of a trusting relationship between state and citizens resulted in excessively formal accountability requirements, creating difficulties for applicants, and producing risk-averse decisions by state administrative bodies. However, the case study demonstrates that through the development of networks, both accountability and thereby project responsibility and risk could be more widely spread, creating opportunities for locally shaped, novel and flexible development.
Author's pre-print version. Final version available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/
Journal of Rural Studies 20 (2):181, 2004