Diffusion, social structure and functioning of scientific rural networks: comparison of European and Finish examples
A comparative analysis of two scientific rural networks was made for this study. The national level case study is the Rural Studies Network of Finland and the international case is the European Rural Development Network. Both networks started in 2002. The focus of this study is on comparing the emergence, diffusion and functioning of these two relatively new networks. The experiences and opinions of individual participants of these networks are highlighted instead of territorial aspects. The paper indicates several differences and similarities between case networks relating to the diffusion processes, social structures, functionality and effectiveness of the networks. Successful emergence of rural expert network is an innovative social networking process, which in ideal case results in to a knowledge society of experts who share some common ideas and goals by exploiting and reproducing their social capital.
In the simplest definition, multi-local living means that a person or family have more than one residence or place to stay. In Finland, multi-locality has become a common phenomenon in recent decades, but the effects of it are not yet considered in decision-making or planning. This is because the “invisible population” created by multi-locality is not reflected in traditional population statistics. The assumption in this article is that multi-locality would provide opportunities to improve accessibility of health and social services in rural areas. The assumption is tested in the North Kymenlaakso region, Finland. The results point to that one-stop services and mobile services are cost-efficient and flexible provision models for rural areas. The results call for making the increasing multi-locality in society more visible and to utilize it better than at present as a resource for the development of rural areas.
Kirsi Korhonen, Ossi Kotavaara, Toivo Muilu and Jarmo Rusanen
Consumers and institutional kitchens, as well as traders, have shown increasing interest towards local food. This is particularly due to the transparency and traceability characteristic of a short supply chain and social aspects related to food origins. The trend has been increasingly common during the past decade in Europe and North America, and it is strongly evident in the case area of this study in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland. In general, ease of access to food is highly important for consumers and crucial for institutional kitchens, in addition to quality aspects and price. However, regardless of proximity, poor accessibility is one of the key issues preventing the further growth of local food markets. Due to scale economics in food value chain, food transport is presently organised mainly by centralised, large-scale logistics companies directed via hubs serving millions of consumers. Accordingly, production volumes required to enter large-scale markets are often unattainable for disjointed small-scale local food producers. In this study, geographic information system (GIS)-based accessibility analyses are applied for analysing potential for integral networking of local food production and transport companies. Berry production was selected as a case study because it has a relatively strong role in Northern Ostrobothnia, while its logistics are notably underdeveloped. Spatial data of primary production volumes consists of register records of farm-specific cultivation areas and average yields in Northern Ostrobothnia and Finland. Accessibility computations are based on the digital model of the Finnish road network, Digiroad. Two surveys were also implemented to farmers and food processing companies to seek views on food processing, sales, logistics and procurements regarding local food. Data from the surveys was used in accessibility analysis, which enables exploration of opportunities for establishing ‘local food’ clusters integrating small producers into a more effective and competitive network. Information about favourable conditions for cooperative networks in the local food sector may help in establishing companies and their growth. Again, successful networking may increase scale economies in local production in transport, processing and marketing.