41st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "European Regional Development Issues in the New Millennium and their Impact on Economic Policy", 29 August - 1 September 2001, Zagreb, Croatia
Understanding differential economic performance at local and regional levels is a key element in devising practical strategies and programmes for sustainable rural and regional development in different contexts. The project DORA – Dynamics of Rural Areas deals with regional and local differences in Europe and is carried out in co-operation with the Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research (Scotland), the Agricultural University of Athens (Greece), the Nordic Centre for Spatial Development (Sweden) and FAL (Germany). The DORA project seeks to improve our understanding of the factors underlying and explaining persistent differences in economic performance between rural localities. The basic hypothesis is that the differential development of rural areas can be explained by a combination of ‘tangible and ‘less tangible’ factors and the way in which these interact in specific national, regional and local contexts. Such factors not only define different opportunities and constraints for local development, but also illustrate how effective the local and regional system is in tapping resources and opportunities and ameliorating constraints. This paper provides a discussion of the preliminary results for the Swedish case study areas based on the analysis of ten factors as well as the interrelationships between them to explain differential economic performance and gives an account of methodological challenges when combining qualitative and quantitative methods.