The Ruralia Institute operates under the auspices of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and have units in Mikkeli and Seinäjoki.

The Institute carries out its duties by

Conducting multidisciplinary research and providing instruction

Developing solutions that promote entrepreneurship and well-being

Networking and constructing open learning environments

Promoting research and teaching in the co-operative sector

One of the Institute’s focus areas is local development.

Katja Rinne-Koski & Merja Lähdesmäki:

Inhabitants of municipalities in producing services – rural community-based service-production in discourse of municipal actors (Abstract only in English)

Focus Localis 3/2021


Along with relocation or closing down of local services, it has become necessary to consider communities’ own responsibility for providing their well-being and services. One way to res-pond to inadequate service provision is through community-based social entrepreneurship. This article examines how municipal actors perceive rural communities’ voluntary service production in the discussion practices of community-based social entrepreneurship and what kind of citizenship it creates. The analysis is based on the stimulus interviews conducted in 2017, in which the opinions of the 11 local authorities of Southern Ostrobothnia were discussed. The data were analyzed by examining discursive (de)legitimacy arguments and subject positions given to the residents. The results demonstrate an ongoing institutional change in both municipalities and village activities. Municipal actors have a conflicting attitude: community members are expected to participate in service production, but only in certain respects. Nevertheless, their discourses lead communities towards increasing responsibility for well-being and local service provision, whereby the citizenship is built as active and participative actor in the service provision network.

Torsti Hyyryläinen, Manu Rantanen, Päivi Pylkkänen, Petri Kahila, Pasi Saukkonen & Pekka Hytinkoski

Rural Municipalities as Actors in a Multi-Local Development Project – An Action Research Orientation to Organizing Learning (Abstract only in English)

In the report, we present how learning can be organized as part of multiple actor project-based regional development. We first look at project theory and generally describe the idea and key principles of project-based regional development. Second, we present our understanding of learning and how it can be connected to networked and multi-local regional and local development actions. Finally, we describe the implementation of these theoretical ideas through reviewing a project example. Our approach is action-oriented, and we use as an example a regionally wide development project we have carried out together with six small Finnish rural municipalities. The aim of the project was to find new ways for the future of Finnish rural municipal centers and rural settings in eastern Finland. Using the project example we illustrate how theoretical ideas and starting points related to learning can be applied in practice. By these ideas, we want to contribute to the debate on how learning can be linked to place-based rural development and the leadership of rural development policies. We emphasize that a development project can be understood as a learning environment organized for a specific purpose. It can generate new knowledge and solve complex problems in a collaborative way by sharing experiences. As a result, we present a network action model where small rural communities could find additional resources for local development, get more efficiency for local development work and are more likely to find new solutions to complex development problems. This action research project was carried out between the years 2017 and 2020 as part of the project called Renewable Rural population settings in eastern Finland and it was mainly funded from the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014–2020


What did you learn about societal orientation?

How can you apply these themes in your life?

Which kinds of intracommunal and intercommunal networks are you engaged in? What kinds of tools and methods do you have for working together? What should still be acquired?