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Browsing by Author "Granqvist, Kaisa"

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  • Granqvist, Kaisa (Helsingin yliopistoHelsingfors universitetUniversity of Helsinki, 2011)
    The Finnish regional development system has gone through structural reforms from state centered governed system to multi-actor governance, based on negotiation and cooperation. One of the reforms has been the regional cohesion and competitiveness program (COCO) established in 2010. The aim of the program is to increase competitiveness through all the regions and balance the regional development by supporting networking. The main focus of the program is to improve the methods and tools for regional development. In the program there are seven thematic networks founded around topics seen important national wide. This thesis explores regional development networks and their evaluation COCO:s two thematic networks, Wellbeing and Land use, housing and transportation as examples. The aim of the thesis is to explore the network actors understanding of thematic networks as tools for regional development. In particular, the study focuses on how the actors see the possible network level outcomes and wider effects of the networking activity. In addition, the central themes of the study are the prerequisite for successful network processes and improvement of the network process effectiveness by evaluation. The research material in this study consist the interviews of the network coordinators and national and regional actors participating in the network activities. The interviews were conducted in spring 2011. Based on the research results, the networks act on national regional and network level and across them. The cooperation is based on official and unofficial relations. The structure of the networks seemed to be self-organizing and controlled at the same time. The structural elements were found to set the framework for the network process and evaluation. According to the results, the networks enabled the more effective operation of the national development system, support of the regions and political lobbying. For the regions the networks offered support for areal development, new resources and possibility to influence national discourse. As conclusion, the role of the network was to disseminate information, create possibilities for collaboration and execute projects and studies and to effect on national policy making. These factors determined the effectiveness of the networks. However, because different regions were satisfied with different network level outcomes, the utilization of the networks in the regions should be evaluated by their own objectives. Resources, motivation, competence and perceptions of the effects were found to affect the successful implementation of the network process and cooperation in networks. Some network level obstacles could be overcome with coordination, but the challenge was the ability and motivation of the areas to utilize the networks as resources and see them as part of the comprehensive development agenda. Thus, the development should focus on how to increase awareness on how to improve regional cooperation processes and how multiple regional actors could enhance their working by utilizing the networks.