The article contributes to the understanding of neo-endogenous rural development policies from the perspective of evolutionary game theory. Rural development is modelled as the increasing realisation over time of gains from interaction by rural stakeholders. The model exhibits two dynamically stable equilibria, which depict declining and prospering regions. Neo-endogenous policies are interpreted as stimuli emerging from an external government authority which help decentralised actors to coordinate on the superior of the two equilibria. External intervention may thus be possible and desirable without giving up the autonomy of local decision makers. However, because initial conditions matter, outcomes cannot be planned or engineered from the outside.