Vitality policy as a tool for rural development in peripheral Finland
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CitationMakkonen, Teemu. Kahila, Petri. (2020). Vitality policy as a tool for rural development in peripheral Finland. Growth and change, 52 (2) , 706-726. 10.1111/grow.12364.
In Finland, there has been a strong tendency to direct rural development from competitiveness and (traditional) enterprise and industrial policy towards a more holistic, systemic and place‐based “vitality policy” including softer development values related to attractive living environments, communality and the well‐being of residents. Research on the topic has, however, remained limited and the views of municipalities unaccounted for. Here, the issue of how municipalities themselves regard this shift in their development work was taken under scrutiny using data collected from the rural and peripheral region of North Karelia (Finland). The empirical material was collected from municipal strategies and via face‐to‐face and telephone interviews with municipal officials. The results show that vitality policy is a holistic place‐based tool to develop rural regions involving several policy sectors and a network (system) of organisations from the public, private, and third‐sector centred around the municipality, that is, local government. Thus, those involved constitute a quadruple helix of actors engaged in rural development. At the same time, under vitality policy, the municipalities have taken a more active role towards strengthening communality. Nevertheless, if (traditional) enterprise and industrial policy fails, other policy measures will have a limited impact on rural development.