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Testing a Framework to Co-Construct Social Innovation Actions: Insights from Seven Marginalized Rural Areas

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Mediterranean Facility (EFIMED), European Forest Institute, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
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Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YX, UK
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Inland School of Business and Social Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Science (INN), 2609 Lillehammer, Norway
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Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Group, The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
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ETIFOR, 35020 Legnaro, Italy
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Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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Bioeconomy and Governance programme, Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), 25280 Solsona, Spain
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FORECO Technologies, 25280 Solsona, Spain
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SEEDS-Int, Horsh Tabet, Sin El Fil, Lebanon
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1441; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041441
Received: 31 December 2019 / Revised: 5 February 2020 / Accepted: 13 February 2020 / Published: 15 February 2020
Innovation actions within European Horizon 2020 (H2020) projects aim at testing research results in practice. When supporting social innovations in rural areas, such testing requires the alignment of several rural actors in order to entail behavioral changes beyond the individual level. Recently, social innovation has been recognized as an important tool for rural areas, developing new solutions to respond to wicked problems for improving local living conditions at the grassroots level. In this study, we analyzed the use of an operational framework to support the early governance of social innovation actions. This framework was applied to co-construct seven innovation actions across Europe and the Mediterranean basin applied to forestry, agriculture, and rural development. Our results showed that supporting social innovators and local actors at the early stage of social innovation processes is key for efficiently addressing and tackling challenges and opportunities. Additionally, we showed that the process of defining a social innovation is complex and requires recursive engagement, which might lead to evolution through time, especially in the first phases of the process. Lastly, conducting the feasibility assessment enabled strategic thinking on crucial dimensions for designing a promising social innovation action, such as social networks management, financial sustainability, and know-how. Such findings helped us to draw general lessons for the development and governance of social innovation actions in rural areas, potentially applicable to any rural sector. View Full-Text
Keywords: agriculture; feasibility assessment; forestry; knowledge co-construction; innovation management; multi-actor approach; participatory approaches; rural development agriculture; feasibility assessment; forestry; knowledge co-construction; innovation management; multi-actor approach; participatory approaches; rural development
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Marini Govigli, V.; Alkhaled, S.; Arnesen, T.; Barlagne, C.; Bjerck, M.; Burlando, C.; Melnykovych, M.; Rodríguez Fernandez-Blanco, C.; Sfeir, P.; Górriz-Mifsud, E. Testing a Framework to Co-Construct Social Innovation Actions: Insights from Seven Marginalized Rural Areas. Sustainability 2020, 12, 1441.

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