European Cohesion Policy performance and citizens’ awareness: A holistic System Dynamics framework
As Cohesion Policy constitutes the major funding scheme of the European Union, not only does literature explore if the policy’s performance is satisfactory but also investigates the extent to which the policy is effectively communicated to citizens. To integrate analysis of implementation and communication, we develop a novel qualitative framework that elicits a holistic analysis of the causal mechanisms behind: (i) the distribution of the Cohesion Policy funds, their management at a local managing authority level and the related impact on projects’ quality, and (ii) the communication processes that underpin citizens’ awareness about the Union’s role in funded projects. The multilevel nature and the dynamic behaviour of the system, as well as its multiple feedback loops, render System Dynamics appropriate as an approach to model its complexity. The proposed framework aims at stimulating a focused discussion on Cohesion Policy by providing policy-making insights for designing efficient schemes to improve the actual and the perceived performances. Finally, it is anticipated to support research in the field from a new organisational perspective through considering the impact of local actors’ structures, procedures and actions on Cohesion Policy outcomes.
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