Ever increasingly more, all the actors directly or indirectly involved in the planning processes express the need to know the effects deriving from the implementation of rural development policy. In this direction, evaluation can make an important contribution, fostering the development of a ‘good policy’ as underlined by EU regulations. Among the specific evaluation questions developed by the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, one of them relates to the improvement of governance. Considering the Adaptive Co-Management (ACM) approach’s capacity as a proxy of the quality of network governance, the study aims to propose the ACM theoretical framework as a suitable model with which to study the social interactions between actors in the smallest unit of the LEADER process (i.e., the local action group’s (LAG’s) partnership governance). The proposed methodology is subsequently tested on a specific case study through the evaluation of the partnership governance of two case studies in the South of Italy. The empirical evidence supports the idea that ACM approach may represent a new model to assess the quality of the implementation process of the LEADER Programme. In addition, the ACM approach can lead to a new organizational and self-evaluation model of LAGs which places an emphasis on the importance of the relational process among its members.
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