Social innovations (SIs) are newideas that create collaboration or new social relationships and thus meet localneeds. The purpose of the research is to understand the role of SIs andcommunity-based quadruple-helix actors in rural development. The researchquestion is how do community-based quadruple-helix actors contribute to theformation of SI networks in the context of rural development?
The triple helix model representsinnovations as emerging in cooperation between three helices (university,industry, and government). The quadruple helix (QH) adds civil society as afourth helix. Using the QH model in rural development requires a broaddefinition of the helices. In addition to universities, all types ofeducational and research institutes are important. In addition, different typesof public organisations are important, not just the government. We define thefourth helix as representing civil society as a community, not just individualcitizens. Our main argument is that the QH model fosters understanding of thevariety of formal and informal ways in which SI enables societal development inrural areas. We examine the relevant relationships with the help of the strandsof literature on SI and QH, and also a case study on projects conducted under theLEADER programme (Aktion Österbotten) in Finland. The case study is based on anarrative approach inspired by the learning history method, with the identificationof critical incidents, which help us to identify how the QH evolves throughoutsuccessful community-driven SIs. The narrative approach reveals thesignificance of informal communities in transforming QH relations.
Many projects under the LEADER programmeaim to strengthen the attraction of communities by promoting local identity,including broad participation in collective events, such as enjoying nature,cultural events, sports, and other social activities. Many of those activitieshave the potential to spill over into other types of SI, such asentrepreneurship oriented towards tourism and new solutions to social needs.The decisive factor for the success of the projects was the involvement oflocal communities. The local knowledge of the communities was nourished in theprojects in interaction with other local and extra-local QH actors.
Accordingly, the main contributionof the paper is combining the notions of SI and the QH, and presenting thefourth helix as a community enabling rural development. We call this ruraldevelopment model the community-driven QH model.
- social innovation
- neo-endogenous rural development
- Quadruple Helix
- Community study