Regional dimensions in rural development policies? : the case of Poland in the EU
This thesis is concerned with the regional dimensions of Polish EU rural development policies. Two major streams in this research, theoretical and practical, correspond to the core intertwined research questions: " What (if any) policy regionalisation is desirable for EU rural policies in Poland? " How should the rural development process be conceptualised with what implications for regionalisation of policy? This research has a direct policy linkage as under the EC legislation Poland has a possibility to implement rural development programmes at "an appropriate geographical level". This thesis explores whether the region (at NUTS 2 level) is such an appropriate level. The thesis is structured around four potential justifications for policy regionalisationin Poland: 1) regionally differentiated rural development patterns across Polish regions; 2) heterogeneityo f regionalp referencesfo r rural policiesa nd their legitimacy; 3) territorial fairness and compliance with regional cohesion objectives, safeguarded by specific regionally set policy budgets; 4) political feasibility. In conclusion, a synthetic framework is proposed, based on a complex system approach. The thesis sprang from a participant observation experience in setting Polish EU preaccession policies. It adopts a multidisciplinary perspective with elements from development economics, economic geography, political studies, regional science, sociolinguistics, and policy evaluation leading to a complex system analysis. A multiplicity of data has been mobilized: participant observation, secondary statistical data, past policy data as well as a series of semi-structured interviews. The empirical analysis suggests there is little evidence of the relevance of NUTS 2 level for rural policy making in the Polish EU context based on the propositions examined here. However, rural policy regionalisation can be more adequately conceptualized as a process, not as a policy desideratum. The forces driving policy regionalisation in Poland are weakly developed at present, but predicted to gain in force in longer term, implying that regionalised policies may become more relevant in the future. The theoretical strand of the thesis leads to a formulation of an integrated framework for rural policy analysis. The model recognizes that the policy making has a multiple rationality, namely actors perform a multiplicity of actions in economic, political and cognitive paradigms when setting and implementing policy, embedded in, and feeding back to fundamental resource capacities. It is argued that such a conceptualization has significant policy consequences, putting the multi-rational policy process rather than purely policy outputs at the centre of policy advice and analysis.