TRL 1. Sustainable agro-food & forest systems in rural areas

DESCRIPTION OF THE THEMATIC LINE

Prominent among the many challenges identified and prioritised by Horizon 2020, is the need for the sustainable development of agriculture and forestry, the appropriate use of resources, respect for the environment and promotion of food safety. The aim is to create a bio-economy that produces food and other products of high quality in all respects, seen from whatever perspective (the intrinsic features of the product/service, the firm’s requirements with regard to competitiveness/profit, consumer needs and social imperatives), through the development of systems that are sustainable, productive, competitive, promote biodiversity, environmental protection and the efficient use of resources, and are based on the integrated and sustainable development of rural areas.

This set of issues is the focus of the thematic research line (TRL) “Sustainable Agro-food & Forest Systems in Rural Areas” (SAFFIRA/SAF&SAR) which will provide continuity to and consolidation of the ongoing work conducted by CETRAD through its Research Group “Society, Territory, Resources & Policy”, as well as contributing to CETRAD’s strategic objectives.

The CETRAD researchers in this TRL have a long tradition, having produced a significant body of research over the years by focusing on issues related to sustainable rural development and the interrelationships between its territorial, socio-cultural and economic aspects. One key topic has been the dynamics, functioning and performance of agro-forestry clusters and firms that produce quality traditional foods. Other topics on which past work has focused include the assessment of the sustainability of local traditional farming systems, the impact of agricultural policies on rural population dynamics, the emergence of new economic activities in rural areas, and how best to conservae local resources, landscape and biodiversity.

Above all, these themes have been pursued via funded (inter)national research projects such as:

  1. RAPIDO – rural areas, people & innovative development (FP6);
  2. European Forest Externalities (COST action E45);
  3. REAL – Agro-food  Network for Innovation & Technological Development, North Portugal-Galícia;
  4. Prospects for Farmers’ Support: Advisory Services in Agricultural Knowledge & Information Systems (AKIS) in Europe (FP7);
  5. PROMERCADO “Developing & Valorising Endogenous Products, POCTEP, Galícia-North Portugal;
  6. DOURINOV – Valorising & Transforming Resources, INTERREG IIIA/Portugal-Spain;
  7. Crossborder Directory of Organic & Craft Products, INTERREG IIIA;
  8. Rural Microproduction & Local Development, INTERREG IIIA;
  9. Organisational Dynamics & Rural Local Development, INTERREG IIIA;
  10. FORESTAKE, The Role of Local Agents in the Success of Forestry Policy in Fire-Affected Areas of Portugal (FCT);
  11. Transition Pathways: Assessing Inovation in Farm Management Strategies (FCT);
  12. Rural Matters – Meanings of the Rural in Portugal: Between Social Representations, Consumptions & Development Strategies (FCT);
  13. Best Practices in Enterprise Development aimed at Valorising Traditional Agrifood Products (PRRN, Portugal); and
  14. RUR@L INOV – Innovating in Rural Areas, (PRRN, Portugal).

In summary, the team has undertaken studies related to the sustainability and enhancement of regional and local products, where the competitiveness and performance of the chains/clusters and attractiveness of their reference markets are crucial to the vitality and viability of the agrarian and rural communities.

More recently the group has also been focusing on emerging themes: the impact of the abandonment of agriculture in the biodiversity preservation; tourism and local development; the links between local agro-food production, gastronomy and tourism in rural areas; the potential of localized agro-food systems and alternative marketing channels to promote local agro-food production; and innovation and best practices as factors in firms’ competitiveness and sustainability in rural areas.

Future research on these issues by this TRL will strongly contribute to achieving the CETRAD’s strategic objectives, i.e. to study rural and territorial development mainly through rurally-focused research, using inter-, multi-and trans-disciplinary methods and comparative approaches, applicable to processes of socio-economic change.

The territory in which UTAD is located, and where CETRAD develops much of its research, is a predominantly silvopastoral ecosystem, profoundly rural in character, historically subject to pronounced depopulation, where farming is in decline, and a fragile enterprise structure and dynamic offer few opportunities for employment or entrepreneurship. These types of territories, whether located in Portugal’s interior, or elsewhere in Europe or beyond, fully justify research focusing on agrarian society’s productive base, its main sectors and filières, emphasising the territorial context of development in rural and semi-rural areas. Accordingly, this TRL will continue to generate/disseminate knowledge, based on its research, related to the dynamics of firms, organizations, institutions and other development agents within the agroforestry systems that predominate in rural areas. The focus will continue to be on sustainable rural development and territory-based competitiveness. By studying the dynamics of clusters and agro-forestry systems in which they function, and the various stakeholders involved, the TRL will be able to assess their contributions to sustainable rural development and the competitiveness of these geographic and organizational spaces. From a research standpoint, the strategic objectives of the line are to:

1) Contribute to our understanding of the dynamics, problems and potentialities of rural society and economy, further developing some of the key research undertaken by CETRAD in the past;

2) Promote advanced education/training, integrating this knowledge into subjects taught at 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycle levels at UTAD; and

3) Transfer results of our research to stakeholders, thus contributing to the development of the territory and community in which CETRAD operates, as well as similar rural territories/communities elsewhere.

An inter- and trans-disciplinary approach allows research to expand the interfaces between key disciplines (sociology; anthropology; economics; management; agricultural, forestry and environmental sciences), and CETRAD’s commitment to valuing the knowledge of development agents, project participants and policy beneficiaries, are decisive factors in achieving our objectives. In summary, the TRL’s research activities aim to assist in responding to at least one of the societal challenges emphasised in the EU’s R&D policy – one that also is in line with CETRAD’s strategic programme, and with CETRAD’s orientation towards participatory, inclusive and trans-disciplinary approaches to territorial development.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE THEMATIC LINE

Agro-food production and forestry are the basis of the rural economy and play a strategic role, as elsewhere, in supporting industry, biodiversity, ecosystem services and tourism. However, it is family-based agriculture, forestry, livestock and location-specific foodstuffs production that underpin economic activity and employment generation in many regions.

However, agriculture is changing and its role in food production has been replaced to some degree by environmental, tourist and/or social functions. This trend has elicited a response from EU policy makers, due to concerns over environmental degradation, climate change, and the need for research to identify more sustainable business models.

Concerns over the nutritional value of foods, food security and food self-sufficiency have had a global influence on the dynamics of agriculture and consumer demand for quality food products. Marrying food security with environmental sustainability has also become a major challenge for humanity. Global competitiveness of markets, the adoption of the Euro, fluctuations in input and final goods prices, the current economic crisis, growing unemployment and an increasingly aging population have all had their effects on the patterns and dynamics of agrarian activity in countries such as Portugal, revealing the vulnerability and scant resilience of agro-food, agro-forestry and pastoral systems in many rural areas.

Instruments for improving the quality of life in rural areas include reconciling the sustainability of rural areas with the renewed importance of the agricultural, forestry and agro-food sectors, the need to shift to more renewable natural resources, the adoption of new technologies, increasing the value-added derived from local resources, the conservation of landscapes and biodiversity. It is on this basis that the TRL has identified the following specific research objectives for 2015-20:

- Assessing the effects of agricultural and rural development policies, by analysing the productive and organizational dynamics of agricultural, agro-food, agro-forestry and pastoral systems. and land-use preferences that have resulted from the changing paradigms of agricultural and rural activities;

- Evaluating the potential of different forestry and pastoral uses in providing land management services, in order to internalize the value of environmental differentiation and the associated benefits (fire management, carbon capture, balanced water cycle, biodiversity and resource recovery);

- Identifying bottlenecks to economic and social development and their impact both on the sustainability of agricultural, agro-forestry and pastoral activities and on rural communities;

- Developing the regionally-focused diagnostics and analytics appropriate to understanding the recent evolution and probable future trajectories of the principal agro-food clusters;

- Assessing the potential of localized agro-food systems and processes of proximity marketing as instruments for sectorial, value chain and territorial development;

- Estimating, at the local level, the contribution of specifically gastronomic and catering inputs into tourism, to consumers’ valuation of rural agro-products and services;

- Studying the market for and processes of valorisation of rural resources so as to propose appropriate policy measures, organizational structures/strategies, and innovation processes conducive to the transformation of resources into business opportunities capable of generating sustainable (self-)employment.

It is expected that the knowledge produced by the TRL will underscore the relevance of the agro-food and forestry sectors in overall national economic development, enabling it top make recommendations of both a conceptual/theoretical and technical/operational nature, regarding policies capable of securing agro-food, agro-forestry and pastoral systems, as well as agricultural and rural livelihoods and overall rural development that are demonstrably sustainable.

 

 

 

 

TRL 2. Knowledge, enterprise & competitiveness

DESCRIPTION OF THE THEMATIC LINE

Though the designation of the Research Group “Innovation, organizations & markets” remains unaltered, a shift in the research to be emphasised in the period 2015-20 is reflected in the creation of a TRL that will focus specifically on “Knowledge, enterprise & competitiveness”. The TRL is divided into 3 areas of concern (regarding creativity, the training of entrepreneurs, and inter-organisational networks) as follows:

1. The value of creativity

By utilizing collective creativity in an effective way, businesses, public entities and not-for-profit organisations can reap the benefits of newly-available knowledge. It is creativity that provides the base from which innovation processes can be launched. The initial phase of innovation often seems to be very individual or even individualistic: first of all, an enquiring mind gathers some new or already-existing apparently useful information, uses it to create new knowledge, develops a unique perspective regarding a specific analytical, business or social problem, conjuring up novel ideas about how a solution might be crafted.

In subsequent phases, the innovation process is anything but individual, requiring the development and deployment of a network of personal and team skills that together point the way to how new sources of value creation and organizational growth can be concretised. For the leaders of business, public and not-for-profit organisations to be successful innovators, they must be prepared to create a suitable organizational culture in which innovation can readily develop, in which individual and group creativities are nurtured and rewarded.

Thus a key focus of RG2’s work will be to examine innovation processes in all types of organisations in their specific territorial contexts, with a view to identifying those in which a culture of creativity and innovation has been successfully established, as well as those in which a more appropriate organizational culture needs to be installed if their potential to contribute to their own future sustainable growth and the territory’s sustainable development is to be realised.

2. Cultivating entrepreneurship

In the advanced and emerging economies, the mission of the teacher is no longer to prepare children for lifelong employment in a specific sphere or sector, but to ensure that they have the skills that will allow them to adapt to the challenges of employment scenarios that are much more unstable and risky than before. This implies that, in future, teachers will need to pay particular attention to all aspects of children’s professional potentialities, including their understanding of their rights and duties as citizens, and the importance of active citizenship, instilling entrepreneurial behaviour in present and future generations, whether or not they decide to establish their own enterprises. Entrepreneurship education should not be limited to a single event or course; what ‘students’ need is continuing entrepreneurial education, with later phases focused on the acquisition of further skills that will prepare them for entry into the world of work, either as employees or as employment providers. For entrepreneurship education to be effective, the teacher must adopt methods that differ substantially from traditional pedagogical approaches, so as to help students to become more reflexive, to recognize the need to develop their own skills and values, and to be able to identify the pathways that lead to success, whether in their personal, social or business lives.

In the light of the above considerations, we propose to develop new instruments that will aid the development of children’s cognitive skills, stimulate their decision-making capacities, and contribute to their capacity to turn ambitions into realizable objectives – all of which will facilitate the tasks of subsequent entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial on-the-job training.

3. Networked organisational strategies

Today, enterprises, public services and not-for-profit organisations are all embedded in competitive, interconnected, overlapping networks of asymmetrical interdependency that constantly bring profit-seekers, professionals, civil servants, civil society, as well as assorted brokers, gate-keepers and go-betweens into constant yet volatile contact. These myriad interlocking networks encompass upstream and downstream links in each organisation’s “value chain”, shifting relations of competition and cooperation with entities in the same sector, “games” of compliance, avoidance or bluff played with legal, fiscal and regulatory authorities, and temporary truces, collusions, alliances, lobbies and stratagems agreed within communities, territories, regions and beyond. Some of these interdependencies are ephemeral, others enduring, and the outer and inner contours of this organisational ecology are in constant flux and motion. It is difficult enough for an organisation already operating in these apparently chaotic currents to steer a course that will allow it to attain its objectives; far more hazardous is the decision to leave the (ever-diminishing) safety of one’s locality, customary clientele and traditional market, and in “unchartered” waters, so to speak, risk unknown dangers in order to win the prize – be it profit, public welfare or humanitarian progress.

Nevertheless, evidence from major firms and organisations would seem to indicate that networks of collaborating enterprises, appropriately designed and managed, can provide unique “value propositions” by complementing, integrating and leveraging each network participant’s visions, skills, experience and capacities via a common platform for enhancing competitiveness. Testing the validity of this proposition and the viability of such business models, in the context of less favoured territories and smaller scale enterprises and orgnisations will therefore constitute the main purpose in this component of the TRL’s work in 2015-20.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE THEMATIC LINE

The specific objectives of this TRL are as follows:

Broadly speaking, the TRL will research the organisational challenges currently facing firms, public institutions and civil society associations in the more rural territories on which CETRAD habitually focuses. More specifically, members of the TRL will design research projects with a view to examining:

  1. How best to stimulate organisations and individuals in rural and semi-rural areas to embrace creativity in the widest sense of the term, to see innovation as a process they can exploit to their own, their community’s and their territory’s advantage, rather than viewing it as an externally-imposed threat; and how innovation processes and systems can be adapted or constructed at the local and regional level in ways that function to the benefit and not to the detriment of the territory and its communities.
  2. How the rural and semi-rural population – but in particular youth, women, returning migrants, and those seeking to “productively reinsert themselves” following redundancy, recovery from chronic illness, or release from closed communities – may be equipped with the skills – from the earliest stages of primary school, through secondary and higher education, to professional training and lifelong education – that will allow them to assess business start-up opportunities in a well-informed manner, and to subsequently attain their business objectives in a viable, competitive, sustainable and socially responsible fashion; and

The extent to which inter-organisational networks – linked to business, to local administration and welfare provision, and to the satisfaction of community interests – can be constructed and deployed in a way that builds collective intelligence, trust and solidarity by retaining value added in the territory and creating/attracting new talent with entrepreneurial potential.

 

TRL 3. Economic dynamics & socioterritorial cohesion

DESCRIPTION OF THE THEMATIC LINE

The recent economic, financial and social crisis has led to a reversal of public policy, particularly in countries of the European Union. On the one hand, there are signs of re-industrialization, mainly focusing on the production of tradable goods in specific territories, potentially providing the basis for more intelligent and sustained future growth; on the other hand, the network-based provision of high value-added services. Just as has been the case of Portugal as a whole, the Portuguese Interior has witnessed a period of particularly marked retrogression in the economic and social vitality and viability of its territories and organizations. Current social and economic indicators suggest a profound internal crisis and deepening of regional disparities of all kinds.

In the context of the economic and social transformations referred to above, the analysis of the interplay between economic dynamics and social cohesion at the territorial level is critical from both the microeconomic and macroeconomic perspectives.

At the micro level, the issues of greatest interest are related to the performance and competitiveness of all types of organizations, private, public and not-for-profit, something that ultimately depends on their possession and appropriate use of property rights, the model of governance adopted, and hence the ability of organizations to adapt structures in line with economic, political and cultural changes at the territorial level, defined locally, nationally or transnationally.

At the macroeconomic level, once we recognize that there is no prospect of truly sustainable overall development while profound asymmetries persist in the pace and distribution of development between the macroterritory’s constituent parts, it becomes clear that matters of great importance are at stake for contemporary society.

In this context, it is urgent that case study and comparative research be conducted with particular regard to: (a) divergences in real and nominal [wages, incomes] between small open economies such as Portugal and the European average; (b) the factors (ranging from the macroeconomic to the microterritorial) that underpin the poor competitiveness and sluggish internationalization of such economies; and (c) the social and economic variables  that explain inter- and intra-regional divergences and asymmetries in demographic trends, human development indices, income distribution, economic growth, labour productivity, (un)employment, social capital, business confidence, and innovation).

At another level of analysis, the Thematic Research Line will assess the extent to which the impact of the economic and social transformations referred to above has been understood and incorporated into the collective behaviour of social and economic actors (e.g. employers’ associations, banks and other businesses, municipal governments, local development associations, 3rd sector organizations, the liberal and caring professions, trade unions), and to what degree they have come to be reflected in public policy and in the governance models of organizations of all types. Furthermore, attention will be focused on the role of public policies and public institutions in (a) promoting economic development conducive to greater territorial convergence in both social and economic terms, both within Portugal and between countries with similar characteristics; and (b) contributing to the creation and retention of value-added in the regions where organizations originate/operate, so as to reverse the population exodus, contribute to enhanced competitiveness and territorial cohesion, and thus promoting the increased well-being of the local population.

The above-mentioned issues are of particular pertinence to CETRAD and its host institution UTAD, due to the fact that they are based and operate from a sub-region with low and declining population density, reduced purchasing power, pronounced reliance on the agrarian, agribusiness, extractive and energy filières, an increasingly aged population, and a persistent fragility of the business community, particularly in terms of competitiveness, innovation and the exploitation of external markets.

The particular focus adopted by this research line can be succinctly explained by three factors: the issues to be examined are particularly relevant and topical, they match the current research interests of the TRL’s integrated researchers, and give continuity to the research already produced throughout their academic career.

In practical terms, the main stimulus that motivates this TRL’s integrated researchers is the challenge of not only analysing economic and social transformations in specific types of local, regional and national territories, but of contributing to the design of public policies and organisational strategies more conducive to territorial cohesion, economic competitiveness, and improved social welfare.

The work planned by the TRL is clearly in harmony with the aims and mission of CETRAD, and will contribute to the achievement of its strategic objectives. In particular, efforts will be made to increasingly conduct research using multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches, based upon a wide knowledge of the complex realities at issue, so as to be able to assist in (re)designing public policies that will promote a development that is more sustainable, is based on greater organisational competitiveness and wealth creating potential, is able to attract skilled staff, attract new entrepreneurs and investors, and, in so doing, mitigate the severe socio-economic problems that less favoured, low population density and largely rural territories have suffered in the past, and that have been exacerbated as a result of the recent economic and financial crisis.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE THEMATIC LINE

Under this line aims to develop theoretical and applied research that goes against his main scientific goal, mentioned above: "analyze the economic and social transformations and design public policies based on the defense of economic competitiveness and social and territorial cohesion with special attention to areas of low density "as well as contribute to the overall strategy CETRAD.

This will be achieved by reaching several specific objectives, more geared to the level of analysis of economic and social and other changes to the plan recommending appropriate policies to solve the identified socio-economic problems.

With regard to economic and social dynamics, the specific objectives are to analyze and build conceptual and practical knowledge mainly on the following topics: organizational governance and property rights; productive efficiency and productivity of organizations, the impact of organizational structure/model governance and property rights in the performance and competitiveness of organizations; competitiveness of firms, industries, regions and country, real convergence (performance evaluation of the regions and the country in terms of production, consumption patterns, employment, unemployment, distribution of income and other factors); nominal convergence (public expenditure, public debt, budget balance, sustainability of public accounts, among other factors); territorial cohesion, in terms of changes in the conditions of life and work (including the role of investment and in particular the Structural Funds; demographic issues such as aging and mobility of human resources (in particular, the phenomenon of emigration and immigration).

In terms of public policy, the specific objectives are mainly by defining and recommend: methodologies for active public participation within territories; support measures aimed at increasing the capacity of organizations/territories exploiting their "idiosyncrasies"; inclusive solutions local governance, and nominal solutions to articulate the process of real convergence, solutions development and planning and economic space; measures to improve institutions and creation of collective rules to provide equity and efficiency; distributive policies of the welfare state in economic cycles of recession at regional and national levels.

 

TRL 4. Tourism & development

DESCRIPTION OF THE THEMATIC LINE

The present economic downturn has brought about not only a contraction of consumer resources available for tourism (with the motivation for holidays having to compete with other, often more urgent, necessities), but also a percolation into the tourism sphere of pre-existing concerns with the effects of environmental degradation and the erosion of cultural heritage. Today, we find terms such as “soft”, “sustainable”, “multicultural” and “respectful” increasingly being used as epithets to promote new tourism products and services that hitherto constituted only a very small niche of the tourism market, such as cultural tourism, ecotourism, agro-tourism, rural tourism, eno-tourism, geo-tourism, ethno-turismo, all of which have become attractive business propositions as well as legitimate objects of study. Mindful of this new phenomenon of market segmentation, the TRG proposes to study the development of new tourism products that are particularly associated with the experiential and existential needs of individuals and with the socio-environmental concerns regarding the sustainability of environments, spaces, landscapes and cultures.

Thus the TRL will devote itself primarily to the study of responses on the part of the system as a whole, that may reveal a dynamism and adaptability capable of strengthening the role of tourism as a bulwark against strategies and dynamics of territorial development that ignore the need to conserve both our material and nonmaterial heritage, and to plan with an eye to the longer term sustainability of the natural and heritage base of tourism, and not the short term profits its unthinking exploitation may engender. Furthermore, we propose to base our work on a perception of tourism as indispensable to sustainable development, heritage conservation and intercultural communication. The tourism system will be assessed primarily in terms of its capacity to generate innovation, to drive economic development, to satisfy necessities and to salve jaded collective consciousnesses. The studies to be undertaken by the TRL will be closely articulated with one of CETRAD’s main objectives, namely to make a real contribution to rural development by way of intensive, independent and painstaking studies, using interdisciplinarity and comparative methods applied to social and economic processes of territorial change.

Despite its reduced margins, even classic mass tourism, in which ersatz versions of “nature”, “culture” and “experience” are added to the hotel’s programme of events to complement the habitual sea, sun and sand, appears able to bear the economic burden, with both tourist operators and tourism-dependent economies enjoying the added benefits. This model of sustainability will become a focus of tourism innovation through which tourists will experience new aspects of “traditional” life and cultural “identities”, as manifested through daily practices of the local population encountered in contexts of equality and mutual respect (quite distinct from the tourist’s one-sided consumption of the tangible and unmediated incomprehension of the intangible). Experiential-cultural tourists and the destinations they target can provide mutual benefits and, in combination, may be conducive to the incorporation of tourism into micro-development strategies for less-favoured territories. In the RG’s work, therefore, considerable importance will be assessing the “visitor experience” as something that is valuable (as envisaged in the International Charter on Cultural Tourism) in terms of its capacity to confer on tourists the benefits of education, personal edification, greater intercultural understanding and, not least of all, pure enjoyment.

The study of the complex cultural practices we call tourism, and of the material conditions in which they are exercised, is intended to provide us with greater understanding of why a given place or destination is considered attractive. The preferences that have so far manifested themselves in the market appear to reduce cultural heritage to the human factor, and this may come dictate which types of openness will be practiced and where cultural boundaries will be fixed. The available options range from appropriating cultural heritage for the recreational use of those wishing to consume new forms of mass tourism, (on the one extreme), to expropriating it  for the recreational use of a minority wishing to enjoy the exclusive cachet of elite tourism. To a varying extent (due to their differential aesthetic, experiential and in some cases, cultural applications), both extremes involve the commercialization of an appropriated good (i.e. heritage and, by extension, cultural identity), and both bring about a type of an “ecosystemic separation”, as primary production is forcibly delinked from its traditional environment and reconnected directly to tourist consumption. The question is, does this behaviour, these habits, so to speak, degrade and subvert cultural heritage or elevate it? Even though little attention has been paid to analysing this process via case studies, it is clear that local communities do have a voice and capacity for action in relation to tourism. As stakeholders in the tourism system they now constitute an active player in the management of signs and symbols, producing and reproducing, timelessly, cultural forms that others deem potentially “convertible into heritage”. The producers of these symbolic services, of heritage-based tourism, are the real cultural intermediaries, capable of using words, images, details and scenarios to make what for them is an everyday reality literally resonate in the consumer’s imagination. In this context it is worthwhile asking whether the creation and recreation of “place-based” or “endogenous” products constitutes an attempt to foreground the intrinsic image, and/or to slow down the assimilation of “the other”, in which the various actors strive to establish a dominant position. Indeed, aside from the increasing competitiveness and diversification of providers and products, the steady growth of world tourism demand boosted by new consumers from China, Russia, the Middle East and South East Asia, and the growing number of territories and locations identified (or identifying themselves) as desirable destinations, provides a extremely attractive focus for study, as the tourist is offered a product that is apparently tailor-made, making “personal” and “unique” that which was hitherto “mass market” and “commonplace”.

With this type of focus, the TRL also aims not only to contribute to CETRAD’s aims, but to deepen some of the purposes that underpin its mission: certainly, our research is intended to generate new knowledge and inform policy making but, above all, its aim is to contribute to territorial empowerment, social inclusion and sustainability as a means of ensuring a more autonomous locally-rooted participation in meeting new societal challenges.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE THEMATIC LINE

This Thematic Research Line (TRL), in accord with CETRAD’s values and mission, adopts an inter- and multi-disciplinary perspective, seeking to maximise the creative interaction between the various disciplines that share tourism as their chosen field of study. Its aim is to undertake research on:

a) The effects of tourism processes in the territories and communities that host tourists, in those from which the tourist flows emanate and, at a more individual and socio-economic group level, how tourism effects tourists themselves;

b) How culture and cultural heritage, understood as dynamic processes, are “made use of” by tourism, with a view to developing new insights that can inform the construction of a tourism that is different: one that is sustainable, ethical and supportive of all those involved. This will necessarily involve the integrated, coordinated and systematic assessment of multiple dimensions of tourism and their effects: new “culture-nature” trends in tourist destinations and services; the role of tourism in the reinvention of cultural traditions, in de-ruralization and in re-ruralization; the maturing relationship between tourism and new ruralities; transborder tourism; the museum in tourist processes; the link between tourism and cultural identities; the “souvenir-ization” of gastronomy, folklore and handicrafts; conflicts over who “owns” cultural heritage tourism; potential frictions between tourism policies for competitiveness and for sustainability; and the urgent calls for alternative forms i.e more responsible tourism;

c) Tourism as a social phenomenon that constitutes a significant force/mechanism for social change, both positive and negative; it should be seen as a culturally interconnective element and a factor in international cooperation (e.g. Latin America, Panama, Brazil, Europe and Africa, with particular emphasis on its island destinations such as Cape Verde, Mauritius, Seychelles, etc.);

d) Tourism’s economic and business “multiplier effects” on local, regional, national and supranational development will be also constitute a focus of attention;

e) Interconnections between tourism, water, wellness and health, via studies of spas in rural contexts (e.g. Portugal/Northern Spain).

f) Finally, the TRL also proposes to develop and strengthen: transdisciplinary research on tourism research methodologies; the teaching of tourism studies at all levels; the management of tourist processes; tourism and the imaginary; and tourism and visual culture – questions that reflect not only the accumulated skills and developing interests of CETRAD members with experience in tourism analysis, but also issues which key stakeholders in tourism systems would be ill-advised to ignore.

 

TRL 5. Demonstrating and capturing the value of market & non-market goods

DESCRIPTION OF THE THEMATIC LINE

The societal challenges acknowledged by the EU’s Horizon 2020 include the creation of more efficient economies alongside a fairer income distribution. These cornerstone dynamics are to be implemented by a European strategy (Europe 2020) that aims to generate intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth. This complex challenge demands multidimensional answers. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has voiced similar concerns, launching a keystone agenda for businesses at international level (Vision 2050), clearly outlining pathways to meet these societal challenges globally by the middle of the 21st century. The WBCSD highlights the items it deems essential to engendering the type of debate involving civil society, government and the businesses community, that will allow them together to steer a “steady course towards global sustainability”: (a) Incorporating the costs of externalities into the structure of the marketplace, starting with carbon, ecosystem services and water; (b) Doubling agricultural output without increasing the amount of land or water used; (c) Halting deforestation, and increasing yields from planted forests; (d) Halving 2005 carbon emissions worldwide by 2050 by shifting to low-carbon energy systems; and (e) Improving demand-side energy efficiency, and providing universal access to vehicles delivering low-carbon mobility.

The Demonstrating and capturing the value of market & non-market goods (MaNoMa) research line, by focusing on the demonstration/capture of the value of market and non-market goods/services, directly addresses the issues of internalising the costs of environmental and ecosystem service externalities and improving demand-side energy efficiency and sustainable consumption patterns. It will contribute directly to meeting the challenges of food security, deforestation prevention, and reducing CO2 emissions. Viable responses to these problems require greater knowledge of, for example, the value of ecosystem services (on the credit side), and the costs of CO2 emissions and water scarcity (on the debit side), and how they can be explicitly accounted for, as benefit or cost. Such responses also involve gaining knowledge on the increased value of market goods that results from the incorporation of sustainability-related attributes, namely those derived from regulation, R&D and innovation in the areas of agri-food sector, the extraction of forestry and other raw materials, and energy and transportation.

MaNoMa also addresses issues related to cultural goods/services, whose value must first be identified if it is to be safeguarded, conserved and valorized, particularly through tourism. With cultural destinations an ever growing part of tourist demand, assessing the economic costs and benefits of preserving cultural heritage items is crucial if effective conservation policies are to be designed and the relevant attributes of cultural heritage integrated into territorially-based value-capturing strategies. This is particularly relevant to meeting the societal challenge of strengthening the role of Europe in a changing world, by enhancing it as a reflective, innovative and inclusive society. Cultural heritage is used here in its broadest sense, embracing not only a wide range of cultural services that are location-specific, educational and/or inspirational in nature, but also such attributes as oral tradition and indigenous know-how. Cultural capital is critical for society’s identity, cohesion and progress. Cultural services contribute to satisfying societies’ and communities’ needs for inclusiveness and identity, are important for people’s individual and collective wellbeing, while contributing to the growth of GDP through their role in the tourism industry, by stimulating innovation, and via inputs into the food and pharmaceutical industries.

As such, MaNoMa constitutes a crosscutting thematic research line within CETRAD, bringing together a broad multidisciplinary group of researchers, including external researchers integrated in other R&D units in Portugal and abroad. Basically, MaNoMa constitutes one piece of an informal network platform that aims to exchange ideas and enhance creativity, connecting teams from different units while also allowing for cooperation with (and between) individual researchers. Its prevalent approach is transdisciplinary, mobilizing and integrating concepts, methods and tools from a variety of social sciences, actively working together with specialists in ecological, agricultural and forestry sciences, and drawing on the knowledge and experience of stakeholders involved in the demonstration/capture of the value of market and non-market goods, such as large companies, micro and SMEs, research units and technological incubators, landowners, sectoral organizations, local and national governments, NGOs, among many other.

MaNoMa is structured across two strongly interconnected axes: (1) The valuation of environmental, heritage and ecosystems goods/services; and (2) the valuation of new or improved market goods.

(1) The value of environmental, heritage and ecosystems services (TVHEES) covers three interconnected research topics: (a) Value definition & delimitation: key concepts such as individual wellbeing and total economic value (TEV) provide the basic tools for MaNoMa, though these will be built upon by devoting critical attention to their limitations. (b) Value measurement: here the main contribution of MaNoMa is to develop and implement economic value-based methods alongside participatory and deliberative approaches. (c) Assessment and development of innovative value capture mechanisms: here the focus is on non-market goods such as the environmental, heritage and ecosystem services, and the aim is to enhance sustainable rural development and poverty alleviation in the poorest territories.

(2) The valuation of new or improved market goods (Valmark), encompasses two main research topics. (a) The development of valuation methods, particularly by comparing alternative and complementary items. Here we compare users’ stated preferences, via methods such as choice modeling, with simulated auctions to value electric cars, food safety or traditional foodstuffs. (b) Producing knowledge on consumer preferences by new products and services via the R&D activities of research units, companies, or other organizations, developed individually or collectively. The Horizon 2020 framework is correct in identifying this type of knowledge as being valuable to firms, particularly micro-enterprises and SMEs, which have a particular and growing interest in identifying the attributes of their products that are most valued by clients as a means of better defining their innovation strategies. By producing this knowledge MaNoMa will contribute to fostering linkages between the research community and the business world, undertaking research on innovative products and services that respond to market needs.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE THEMATIC LINE

MaNoMa’s research objectives derive from its two main research axes, TVHEES which focuses on the value of environmental, heritage and ecosystems services and VALMARK, which directs its attention to the valuation of new or improved market goods. The results of this research aim to contribute to steering the ‘steady course towards global sustainability’ called for by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The contributions will take the form of the production and dissemination of new knowledge and improved tools, the promotion of advanced training, and enlarged cooperation with diverse stakeholders and communities in Portugal and abroad. Contributions to overall progress in research are expected mainly at three levels:

(1) Reinforcement and exploitation of the opportunities provided by the transdisciplinary approach to enlarging and transcending conceptual boundaries (e.g. the concept of value), and the development of new means (or the improvement of current methods) of measuring the value of market and non-market goods. In addition, current models enabling the capture of non-market value by ecosystem managers will be evaluated and discussed, again cross-fertilizing quantitative and qualitative techniques and triangulating the results with stakeholder perceptions, knowledge and experience via the adoption of participatory and deliberative approaches. Given their key role in successful models of market and non-market value-capture, a special research effort will be devoted to governance issues.

(2) Enlarging existing knowledge on a diversity of problems, stressing the importance of multidimensional solutions to the management of natural resources, ecosystems and respective service-provision, satisfying consumer demand by understanding their latent and observable preferences (particularly in the Lusophone countries, where the available knowledge is rather scarce).

(3) Strengthening the transferability and added value of knowledge generated via research, by promoting convergence between R&D, business and local communities, paving the way for a steady and sustainable growth in national, regional and local economies, in particular in the spheres of agriculture, food industries, forestry and other raw materials extraction, energy, and tourism. MaNoMa will contribute to market research that will help to match the innovative products and services developed by the R&D and business communities with consumers’ latent and observable preferences.

As one of CETRAD’s transversal thematic research lines, MaNoMa’s activities are in harmony with the Unit’s overall strategic research goals. By drawing heavily on transdisciplinary and participatory approaches, MaNoMa makes an important contribution to the development of innovative methodologies and techniques capable of solving real contemporary problems, in particular those affecting rural territories and communities in Portugal, Europe, the Lusophone countries and elsewhere. Viable and appropriate solutions must be rooted in an integrated analysis of distinct but interconnected problems such as land abandonment, depopulation and ageing, land-use changes propelled by market globalization that threaten local communities and the ecosystems on which they depend. Public policies, local and national government, and the business community must acknowledge and recognize the importance of maintaining natural, semi-natural and cultivated ecosystems as a source of indispensable services for human life, economic progress and socioterritorial cohesion. In addition, with its VALMARK component, the MaNoMa group will contribute to cost-benefit based efficiency, and thus to sustainability, by closing the gap between research and innovation (on the one hand) and consumer needs and demands (on the other).

See more information at https://cetrad.utad.pt/local/public/assets/img/documentos/7ts_MANOMA_brief%20presentation_set2017.pdf

TRL 6. Risk society, inclusion & social policies

DESCRIPTION OF THE THEMATIC LINE

In an increasingly globalized society, the critical scrutiny of social processes has become a key challeng to the social sciences and it is expected to continue being so. Studying the forces that prompt societal changes as well the forms of agency and types of policy that structure change and resistance alike, obliges us to think in a more concerted way about the multiple dimensions of global processes: the reorganization of economic, cultural and communication flows; reconfigurations of identity; the establishment of transnational networks; the definition of economic models of production and consumption (and the identification of its ecological limits and implications for labour and employment); the transformation of old hegemonies and the emergence of new ones; the recomposition of relations and dealings between State and citizen. Far from constituting a singular, uniform and unambiguous trend, globalization has impacted differentially and to a variable extent on the lives of both people and communities, producing diverse – and sometimes perverse – outcomes. Therefore, we must seek to identify globalization’s pluralities, its multiple meanings as well as the different actors (individual and institutional) involved and the variable scope, range and extent of its effects. The members of this thematic research line (TRL) believe that the social sciences and humanities have a duty to apply a critical epistemology to scrutinise processes of exclusion and inclusion, be they materially more or less explicit, normatively more or less desirable. Such a scrutiny may contribute to a much-needed reconceptualision of social problems and their foregrounding both in the realm of public debate and in the design and assessment of policies and programmes of social intervention.

The transformation of the role of the State and the reconfiguration of institutional relationships opens up the possibility of political participation to a wider range of social actors who, in turn, are able to mobilize new resources, propose new political strategies, and develop new and more autonomous discourses. In this respect, social movements constitute another unavoidable focus of the TRL’s attention, demanding an analysis of the conditions of grassroots participation by citizens, the role of the “caring” and social professions in collective mobilization, and the synchronic and diachronic interactions between movements and policies.

The aims of this TRL have been constituted in response to a double need: (a) to reflect on the meanings of social action; and (b) to understand how social institutions frame the social experiences of individuals. To concretize these aims, two research approaches are deployed: (i) a relatively inter-disciplinary examination of the relationships between individuals, institutions and social organizations (including the State and the services under its wing); and (ii) an apparently more uni-disciplinary approach closely identified with Social Work practice and research which, by recognising Social Work’s inter-disciplinary nature, transcends the mere detailing of the operative procedures and instruments of social intervention.

The TRL recognises the importance of professional knowledge, professional cultures and labour relations in post-industrial societies; these dimensions are also key objects of its attention. As societies-in-transition experience the deinstitutionalization of social interactions and the loosening of bureaucratic organizations, the professional groups (whose social status is more dependent of scholastic/intellectual capital) are increasingly called upon to manage and regulate social problems under circumstances of uncertainty and risk. This means that the existing ideological, political, legal and research-related frameworks and guidelines tend to fall significantly short of what the social and “caring” professions require if social problems are to solved or at least mitigated. As a consequence, the trust, legitimacy and authority customarily accorded to professional knowledge and skills may be difficult to sustain. Professionals’ capacity to tackle social problems will come to depend more on their contextual roles, as they are transformed into power and knowledge brokers between institutional systems, deploying an abstract knowledge base that dilutes itself and the needs and aspirations of an increasingly individualized citizenry. Professional knowledge is (re)constituted and functions in the interstices between the general and the abstract dimensions of formal knowledge (on the one hand), and the contextual interactive dimensions of tacit and practical knowledge (on the other), a field that is eminently characterised by friction and conflict.

The TRL is divided into 3 axes:

(1) State, social policies and social movements. Here, the study of the reconfiguration of the welfare state, as evidenced by shifts in social policies, will focus on target audiences as “activated” through such processes as interactive professional practices, territorial policies, the decentralization of governance and power, the strengthening of informal sociability, and the organisational dynamics of the “third sector”. The processes of social mobilization that accompany the structural transformation of policy constitute a further object of research.

(2) Social Work: identities and contemporary practices. Here, the focus is on the production of knowledge in Social Work, combining different fields of research such as professional identity; historical advances in intervention models and the professional status of social workers; contemporary trends in the theorising of Social Work (e.g. constructionist analysis; critical social work; social justice; human rights; reflective, emancipatory and empowering practices). The conditions and processes that currently shape the production of Social Work knowledge are also of interest (practice-research; participation and involvement of users in research; action-research; evidence-based practice), as well as the analysis of practices in different fields and contexts of Social Work intervention (respectively, medical, educational, reinsertion, violence/abuse, etc.; and in public, private and not-for-profit entities).

(3) Professional knowledge. This axis identifies the study of cultures and professional knowledge as its main object of research. Concretely, the focus will be directed at the analysis of the ways in which different professional groups, in diverse contexts, legitimize their status in interactions with regulators, users and clients, communities, hierarchies, peers, and other agents.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE THEMATIC LINE

 

Common to all 3 research axes is the study of how contemporary social change reconfigures the family, organizations, territories, professions, political systems, power and identity). The aim is to improve understanding of the processes, dynamics and interactions that emanate largely from the global and impinge (albeit differentially) on the local.

Specifically, the aim is to (1) analyse inclusion/exclusion trajectories and the social construction and perception of risk in relation to the framing of social policy; (2) study the reconfiguration of social welfare systems, whether diachronically, or from the contemporary vantage point of economic, financial and social crisis; (3) assess the availability of social support solutions (in the form of institutional devices or informal solidarity schemes), and their role in poverty alleviation and vulnerability protection; (4) evaluate territorial, participative and deliberative models and governance policies; (5) study how civic agency and social mobilization contribute to building active citizenship.

The main aim of the “State, Policies & Social Movements” axis is to strengthen research output on: (a) social inclusion policies and the “activation” of target publics; (b) territorial governance and regional development, bearing in mind, in focusing on politico-administrative decentralization experiences and the social construction of empowered territories; (c) processes of active citizenship, social movements and participatory democracy; (d) the implementation of socio-territorial intervention processes; (e) territorial planning and the promotion of collaborative frameworks; (f) the social construction of risk/risk-perception (e.g. unemployment, aging, gender, prostitution, poverty, abuse, crime, drug addiction, among other problems and forms of social exclusion, and related social intervention mechanisms); (g) the decentralization of social support mechanisms in favour of regional/local structures and the resulting paradoxes and tensions; (h) relations between State and “informal” solidarity systems; (i) relations between the State and third sector organizations and the generation of sustainable community-based social services; (j) the production of discourses and representations concerning (social) space; (k) the politics of problem definition and its ideological dimensions; (l) environmental perceptions and socio-environmental conflicts in protected areas; (m) instruments of environmental policy and governance and their role in social inclusion in rural and/or peripheral territories; (n) environmental activism and social mobilization.

The “Social Work: identities and contemporary practices” axis aims to strengthen research output in the following spheres: (a) the construction of participatory social support forms; (b) trajectories of inclusion/exclusion and the strategies to empower individuals and groups at risk; (c) contemporary social intervention practices (evidence-based practice; approaches to Social Work that are school-based, culturally-sensitive, feminist, and/or relationship-based); (d) skills related to communication and rapport in Social Work practice; (e) reflections on improvements in Social Work’s specific research tools/skills (research-based practice; applied research; emancipatory and participative research; client-involved research).

While sharing CETRAD’s development, rural and territorially-focused research agenda, mission, identity and strategy, the TRL’s specific research aims are to observe social transformation processes and sociological objects in their various contexts, and in particular in their policy manifestations. To do so, the TRL conducts policy analysis, drawing mainly on a qualitative methodologies and comparative, ethnomethodological and action-research approaches in order to reflect on how strategies of State and community-based welfare, active citizenship, social and territorial cohesion may be rendered more effective.