- New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Hans Westlund and Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Chapter 13: Social capital for sustainable rural regions: the roles of voluntary association-mediated public service
Voluntary associations are becoming an integral and necessary resource of public service in encouraging public involvement and partnerships, as well as in promoting community initiatives. Such associations include not only non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) but also any polymorphic form of organization, such as neighborhood associations and online associations for civic and charitable activities. In many parts of Japan, diverse pilot projects and social-psychological programs have been implemented as new policies for rural planning. In the new policy implementation process, the conversational and participatory nature of voluntary associations has been effective in mobilizing the voluntary provision of public service by raising awareness of civil society’s role, as well as by building better partnerships between diverse sectors, such as public, private, international, academic and civil society organizations. Voluntary associations are therefore being called the “new public” in Japan and are expected to facilitate a new type of partnership between diverse sectors that is different from the traditional public–private partnership (PPP). Here we call this new type of partnership “Voluntary Association-Mediated Public Service (VAMPS)”. How can voluntary associations contribute to providing public service and rural development? This chapter discusses VAMPS as an ‘entrepreneurial approach’ to achieving effective rural policies and its coordination mechanism of internal and external social capital for selecting better policies under strategic complementarity.
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