A new community building strategy for Europe
Communication, community, innovation
Going beyond the consolidated communication paradigm to promote a system innovation
The research stems from the observation that the communication model promoted today by the European Union tends to affirm and replicate exclusively top-down and unidirectional dynamics, both when it is addressed to civil society and political institutions, to the world of research and to the productive fabric.
These dynamics highlight the difficulty of the Union to activate real and productive interactions with the various stakeholders that bring out their real needs: when strategic objectives and specific activities are defined, it is always more complex to start processes of co-planning with the various stakeholders. The major criticality is highlighted above all when strategies and instruments are not presented and defined to involve and involve the various stakeholders (associations, institutions, SMEs, civil society) in the process that leads to the identification of the real problems and needs of the cultural, social, and entrepreneurial fabric.
We are facing a strange contradiction: on the one hand, a EU vision of development that is attentive to enhance the creative dimension, the diversity, the cultural, economic and social specificities; on the other hand a communication that moves in an opposite direction, that is in top-down mode.
It emerges the need of a research and development policy that manages to address the social problems identified on the European territory, through the cooperation between companies, institutions and the research world.
Building new plots between addressing policies and territories
From the research conducted so far, and above all from the results of the projects promoted by the CfGC, it is clear that, once initiatives to promote innovation and the technology transfer are undertaken without a really generative communication model of relationships and exchanges between the subjects potentially interested in the proposed innovation, the results are not very effective.
The CfGC, therefore, proposes the generative paradigm as a communication model to significantly reaffirm the centrality of the local dimension of the territories and the subjects that animate them within the communication and productive processes encouraged by the EU.
The proposed solution does not follow a top-down model or combine an exclusively bottom-up logic, but proposes the construction of a new relationship between a policy of unitary address that characterizes the entire European area and a policy of action that acts at the local level, not just applying the strategic lines, but rethinking them in relation to the real needs of the different stakeholders.
Communication generative for the Operational Groups PEI AGRI
The project is within the context of the Operating (GO) PEI-AGRI groups, an interactive tool implemented by the European Union for the dissemination of innovations in agriculture, food and forestry sectors brings together all the players in the innovation chain able to identify solutions to specific problems in a given context.
This is a fundamental test for the research and experimentation activities of the Center which, in 2018, participated in the setting-up (measure 16.1 of the Tuscan Rural Development Program 2014-20) of 4 of the 24 Operative Groups active in Tuscany collaborating with some excellent partners. It is in this context that the CfGC has had the opportunity to listen to entrepreneurs and representatives of trade associations on the opportunity of spreading some technological solutions – suchas Precision Agriculture – assessing their perception in relation to the social and economic impact that these innovations could have on the territory.
Currently the CfGC is participating in the activities of three Operative Groups financed through Measure 16.2 of the RDP, supporting the leader in the management of the various Groups from the point of view of organizational communication:
- GO-CARD, which experiments the cardoon as a crop for marginal lands, coordinated from Coldiretti-CAICT;
- GO-OLIMPOLLI, which introduces Precision Agriculture technologies for the artificial pollination of the olive tree, coordinated by Coldiretti-CAICT
- GO-AUTOFITOVIV, which proposes new phytosanitary procedures based on self-control, coordinated by the Italian Nursery Association.
The communication strategy proposed by the CfGC, while facilitating the exchange of information between the partners and promotes the dissemination of the results of the experiments to the wider public of stakeholders, provides for a series of actions aimed at:
- listening to and analyzing information needs and communication of the partners involved;
- carry out in -depth analyzes on the perception that stakeholders in the agricultural sector have of their role in the field ofinnovation processes;
- analyze the point of view of the world of research on technology transfer, measuring the quality of the relationship between universities and research centers and agricultural entrepreneurs;
- experiment the generative paradigm by testing its effectiveness in the creation of communities of interest and objective.
Analyze and monitor the communication events promoted by the European Union (Rural Development Innovation Week 2019)
In the field of Rural Development Innovation Week (Florence, 26-29 March 2019) the Center for Generative Communication proposed to the Tuscany Region and to thenetwork European Regionfor Innovation in Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ERIAFF) a listening path to collect and analyze the point of view of qualified subjects on the role of communication in technology transfer activities in agriculture.
The objective of this project is to gather elements of knowledge on the role that ERIAFF and the Tuscany Region – as intermediate subjects between the European and local levels – assume in acknowledging the strategic inputs of the European Union and in using the tools available (for example: networks such as the PEI-AGRI and The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD), the Operating Groups, etc.) to initiate innovation processes that make a system between them in aperspective systemic innovation. Specifically, the listening path intends to investigate the effectiveness of some activities of ERIAFF and of the Tuscany Region not only in creating a network of interventions in the territory, but also in giving feedback to the European Union when planning further interventions.
The project is structured around three different moments of listening developed starting from the same number of questionnaires created and delivered by CfGC researchers.
The first is aimed at ERIAFF members participating in the event, and is oriented towards:
- analyzing the self-perception of their role within thenetwork networking;
- bring out the idea of communicating innovation spread within the network.
The second questionnaire is addressed to the leaders of the 24 Operative Groups admitted to financing by the Tuscany Region, and constitutes the occasion to deepen:
- the genesis of the innovation projects of the operational groups;
- the results of territorial animation activities aimed at theengagement of stakeholders launched in the previous phases;
- activities networking between Tuscan, national and European projects carried out so far;
- the project’s sustainability expectations beyond the funding period.
The third questionnaire is functional to monitor the effectiveness of the communication tools and the link between the European dimension and that of the regions activated within the Rosewood project, starting from the perceived of the participants to measure the response that similar communicative activities give back in terms of satisfaction of expectations.
Analyze the social and communicative impact of the agro-climatic-environmental measures of the 2014-2020 RDP
In October 2018 the CfGC received from the Agriculture Department of the Region of Tuscany the task of drawing up a report to assess the impact of the agro-climatic-environmental measures of the 2014-2020 RDP, with the aim of analyzing the state of the art and future prospects of the agro-climatic policies implemented in Tuscany.
Project activities focused on the analysis of the reports presented during the 2014-2020 RDP conference. The Agroambiente in Tuscany: Regional policies and future prospects (Madonnino di Braccagni Exhibition Center, 28 November 2018), conducted in collaboration with professors Gianluca Brunori and Massimo Rovai of the University of Pisa.
In addition to the preliminary analysis of the abstracts and a series of interviews with the speakers before the event, the CfGC researchers, during the conference, gathered important elements of knowledge on the results of the measures presented, also through a series of interviews (audio and recorded videos) made ad hoc.
Like every CfGC project based on the generative communication paradigm, in fact, the organization of field activities was based on three work phases: before, during and after the event, in order to deepen the contents proposed by all the experts present both at the time of the public presentation and with moments of confrontation between each speaker and the CfGC research group.
The scientific collaboration with the Tuscany Region for the communication of the Rural Development Program 2014-2020
In 2014, the Department of Agriculture of the Tuscany Region launched – in the context of the new Rural Development Program (RDP 2014-2020) – a scientific collaboration with the CfGC for theintroduction of generative communication in Tuscan programming. The goal of the collaboration is to design and develop a strategy aimed at effectively communicating the opportunities of the program to all stakeholders in the region.
The project provided an opportunity to experiment with functional strategies for overcoming traditional, hierarchical and transmissive communication, linked to a mechanistic view of reality, to embrace a complex perspective, in which a system (the Tuscan rural system) cannot be interpreted as the sum of the single parts (the agricultural entrepreneurs, the associations, the geographical space), but it results as much more stable as more bio / different and strictly interconnected.
In this perspective, the RDP was not considered as a content to be transmitted, a product to be communicated to potential interlocutors. The project focused on testing a communication in the RDP, considering the Program as a tool to reactivate a complex system of relationships and interests on the basis of a common project: re-launching a territory.
In this perspective, the researchers supported the Department of Agriculture of the Tuscany Region in defining a communication strategy for the RDP through the design and implementation of a communication environment that would putinto a system for all those involvedall the problemsbut also all available resources.
The project can be divided into a series of successive steps:
- organization of listening paths aimed at executives, officials and technical personnel of the Tuscany Region, carried out through interviews and focus groups;
- activities community building to reactivate relations between those who direct and those who work in the area, identifying entrepreneurs and technicians, in agreement with the main trade associations, who act as “sensors” in the territory, organizing meetings and focus groups and animating the meetings;
- planning and implementation of the website of the Rural Development Program (Special RDP), based on non-transmission logics and oriented to the collection of questions from those directly involved;
- activation of internal training courses, functional to the diffusion of a communicative behavior inspired by the paradigm of generative communication between the personnel of the Tuscany Region;
- monitoring of the state of communication in agriculture, through a workshop with communication professionals.