Evaluation of a cluster of social economy as catalyst of social capital and capabilities

25 ottobre 2014

 Evaluation of a cluster of social economy as catalyst of social capital and capabilities (O178)

11thEES Biennial Conference EVALUATION FOR AN EQUITABLE SOCIETY. DUBLIN, 2 OCTOBER 2014-Session 056: Improved social programmes through evaluation

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Community foundations and local coalitions are in an even better position to catalyse the resources and the changes required to achieve a significant increase in social capital and in developing innovative solutions to manage social problems and promoting local development. A three years evaluation research, commissioned to an external evaluator by the Community Foundation of Messina (CFM) will be presented. The CFM promotes a local model of human development structurally related with productive, civil economy clusters able to generate an evolved community welfare, named ‘Evoluted Social District’ (ESD). Rather than being based on charitable giving of the donors the CFM is built by a local cluster of social economy, the Local Health Agency, a public center of scientific research and by the provincial industrial association, at national level the Ethical Bank and Caritas and at European level an umbrella of social enterprises. The aims of the evaluation were to verify the coherence of the complex multisectoral strategy of local development and assessing the effects of a Pilot project. The underlying theory of the programme of the CFM, is based on the idea that local, human and economic development feeds on and amplifies social capital, people’s instrumental freedoms and the economic resources of the analysed clusters. The ‘capabilities approach’ has been adopted as a conceptual framework both for the design of policies by the CFM, and the assessment of individual well-being of recipients. Qualitative and quantitative techniques of research have been used: a network analysis with a structured questionnaire addressed to 47 organisations, a pre-post design of evaluation with a version of ICF International Classification Functioning (WHO) for psychiatric setting, non structured interviews of stakeholders and key individuals, a survey with beneficiaries of a ‘photovoltaic urban park’. The empirical results indicate that the social capital of the ESD, assessed by indicators on trust and exchanges within the network and by a tested Scale of Governance (System of rules, participation and transparency in the decision-making processes), influence the level of innovation and economic competitiveness of the ESD in the observed period. Innovative mechanisms to finance welfare local initiatives have been classified (e.g., how to reinvest the revenue coming from the production of green energy). Furthermore this inclusive model of development resulted to work for social and labour insertion of 56 ex inmates, using the personal ‘capabilitiy budget’, and resulted to empower their wellness and capabilities. A multiple linear regression model has been developed to predict the values of socioeconomic effects (e.g., increased access to credit, share of technical and professional knowledge, access to new potential markets) at meso-level within and outside the boundaries of the CFM. The ‘arising institution’, according the new institutionalism approach, represents a mobilizer of resources and a social capital catalyst within the territorial district. We discuss the implications of the empirical results for public and private funders with an interest in knowledge translation of social innovation and suggest some key dimensions that could be adopt both, to identify and supporting potential successful local coalitions and to evaluate complex place-based initiatives of local development.

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