Perceptions of effectiveness in short food supply chain projects

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Gelderland province supports short food supply chain projects, but their effectiveness is unclear, and therefore benefits from evaluation. This study evaluates the province’s policy and six funded projects on the basis of participant perspectives of their effectiveness, as well as seeking to identify factors seen as important contributors to effectiveness. The research follows a grounded theory approach, using interviews as the primary data source. The results reveal six broad outcomes used to evidence effectiveness: increased collaboration, strengthened producers’ position, catalytic effect, creating structures, durability, and increasing knowledge. 10 factors were also identified as important contributors to effectiveness: accessibility, commitment, empowerment, structures, institutional support, project coordination, organisational relations, landscape and local connection. Despite positive views on project effectiveness, the policy was judged on the extent to which it enabled or limited projects. The policy was seen as having an overall limiting effect, due to onerous administrative processes, inflexibility and lack of support, leading to inaccessibility for many potential beneficiaries, particularly small producers. The results show that participants’ understandings of effectiveness is multi-faceted, not simply considering goal attainment. To improve effectiveness, Gelderland province should work in partnership with recipients, providing support throughout the process, and prioritise accessibility to key beneficiaries.
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