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Social Capital and New Public Policy Tools for a Sustained Development: the Experience of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Jorge Renato de Souza Verschoore Filho

This paper is the result of the case studies developed from the author's thesis on the analysis of public policies for regional development in the southern end of Brazil, and of his work as a policy maker in the Secretariat of Development and International Affairs, Government of Rio Grande do Sul. This paper is aimed basically at providing new tools for public policy aimed at the promotion of a socially sustained regional development, based on small and medium-size businesses and different types of social integration which have been implemented by the state public administration since the beginning of 1999.

Based on the contemporary concept of social capital, and the need for commitment by the civil society to the process of definition, implementation and backup of government action, policy tools resort to the use of alternative public strategies for a balanced and sustained regional development. Therefore, this paper is also intended as a contribution to the debate about the importance of civil society, including regional co-operation and participation for modernisation and economic development of territory.

This paper is divided into three parts. The first part briefly discusses the concepts of regional development and civil society commitment that support implemented policies. Secondly, public policies aimed at fostering and protecting the practice of inter-company co-operation between small and medium size businesses as presently implemented in the experience of Rio Grande do Sul are overviewed. These policies include the action taken to further co-operation practices; tools used in order to overcome obstacles to the process, and mechanisms that allow for wider coverage of co-operation practices and that turn such practices into micro-business initiatives. The last part covers the final considerations on this initial experience involving government action in Rio Grande do Sul in favour of economic development.

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