U.S.-Finland Cooperative Research: Comparison of National Versus Local Development Efforts in Small Towns in Finland and the U.S.
This award supports Dr. Harley Johansen and a graduate student from the University of Idaho to collaborate with Dr. Arvo Naukkarinen of Oulu University, Finland, in a comparative study of community development in Finland and the U.S. The objective of their research is to understand better the process of business growth in rural communities and how various development strategies can enhance this process. Rural community development in Finland and the United States has similar goals, but in each country development is pursued by significantly different strategies. This collaborative research will examine how Finland's centralized program of regional planning policy has worked to stimulate economic development of rural communities, and how this kind of external assistance and funding compares with the predominantly local development efforts found in American small towns. Research will involve data collection in Finland to replicate a study conducted in the U.S. among a national sample of 100 small towns that were surveyed in 1981 and 1986. Economic development in rural locations is an important goal among most countries today. A variety of strategies for economic growth in peripheral regions has evolved along with a greater understanding of the complexity of development problems. This research will provide insights into how the process of mobilization and promotion of growth in small towns works, how external help can create growth in less developed areas which do not have local resources for development, and whether external funding and assistance can create preconditions for sustained growth.