Territorial disparities in Italy and the case of Campania: appraising the successes and failures of 25 years of cohesion policy support

Laura Polverari, Laura Tagle

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Territorial disparities in Italy have been a long-term critical node for the Italian State; a node that lies still largely unresolved. Since the abolition of the centrally-managed Special Intervention, in the early-1990s, European Cohesion policy has represented the most important explicit policy response to the aim of closing the economic and social gap between Centre-North and South of Italy (albeit not the most important tool financially). There is unanimous consensus that this gap is still considerable, but not on the related causes, namely whether and to which extent they can be linked to policy failure. A useful way to frame this question is to appraise ex post the ‘utility’ of this policy, i.e. what it has achieved (irrespective of its explicit goals) and whether it managed to address the ‘right’ policy needs.

Thus this paper presents an appraisal of Cohesion policy support in Campania over the period 1989 to date, focusing on the concept of utility. It draws from an investigation of Cohesion policy support in Campania over four subsequent programme periods, entailing: desk-research on the circa forty Cohesion policy programmes implemented since the first landmark reform of Cohesion policy; a detailed analysis of monitoring and expenditure data; 73 semi-structured interviews with privileged observers; and an online survey administered to circa 800 stakeholders. It is the first time that a study of this scale and scope has ever been undertaken, as previous analyses have tended to focus on distinct policy phases or instruments. In assessing utility, the paper will shed light on the elements of success and failure of the policy, and the reasons behind them, bringing out the mechanisms of change and the role played by path dependency in determining policy outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2013
EventAPSA Annual Conference 2013 - Chicago, United States
Duration: 29 Aug 20131 Sep 2013


ConferenceAPSA Annual Conference 2013
CountryUnited States


  • European cohesion policy
  • public policy
  • regional development
  • Mezzogiorno
  • Italy
  • Campania

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