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Abstract

Though policy openings for support from the ‘new rural paradigm’ look promising, market access through sustainability-led economic organisations in fragmented rural areas is not easy. This paper analyses the implications of the interactive embedded governance model framed by the structural, cognitive and relational dimensions of social capital and hence the firms’ ability to engage with networked stakeholders in bottom-up knowledge-sharing for innovation. We show how, in the case of three marginal rural villages in the province of Trentino, Italy, this approach was used to raise stakeholders’ awareness that the local identity and heritage resources represent assets that given appropriate knowledge sharing could be converted into ‘authentic’ tourism products. The study illustrates the critical importance of such non-economic factors for achieving sustainable rural development.

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