chapter  7
16 Pages

LEADER and Possibilities of Local Development in the Russian Countryside

Participatory action research (PAR) made a breakthrough in the international research field about 40 years ago. In developing countries it offered the promise of contributions to local development by researchers who would actively get involved in local activities. When studying the basic principles and objectives of the LEADER method, we can find similarities to participatory action research, even if the role of research is seen as smaller or even non-existent. In reality, academic professionals, with researcher education, often have a strong influence among rural developers in LEADER projects. This is one good reason to study the outcomes of such projects in the framework of action research. This chapter will present the evaluation research, which was carried out in connection to a development project ‘Ladoga Initiative’ (LI) in North-Western Russia. LEADER had never before been operated in Russia. In this pilot project (2011-2013) local actors applied the LEADER method to find out and to support small-scale initiatives in the vicinity of Lake Ladoga. The main question in the evaluation is how well this approach can be applied to the circumstances of rural Russia. Before moving to the process and the results of establishing a LEADER type of

development effort in Russia, let us take a look at what LEADER is and how well it fits with the characteristics of participatory action research.2