Governance and social networks for welcoming and integrating newcomers – an overview report and cross-case study comparison
Dalla Torre C
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By being the closest administrative unit dealing with newcomers, governmental organizations at the local and regional levels play an important role in managing migrants’ first welcome and integration (Mitterhofer et al. 2016, Gruber 2012). The person in charge of such issues, often the mayor, a member of the local government or a district administrator, can deeply influence how the issue is dealt with in the local agenda. The person in charge can likely influence the municipal administration and territorial actors to open towards an intercultural perspective and engage in welcoming and integration activities (Schader-Stiftung 2014). However, an increasing number of both studies and integration initiatives – like the Alpine Pluralism Award projects1 – indicate that this dominant role played by the responsible person is evolving towards a more facilitating, a networking role. In such evolution, the responsibilities are shared more horizontally, so that the person that traditionally had all the managing tasks is now put almost on an equal level in the cooperation together with non-governmental, private and civil society organizations (Schader-Stiftung 2014, cf. role of civil society in city environment OECD 2018). This evolution reflects the aim and the need to improve efficiency and goes into the direction of creating a governance around the topic of welcoming and integration of migrants (OECD 2018). The governance approach is characterized by complex collaborative relationships between various actors and sectors on multiple levels. The Alpine Space project PlurAlps addresses this complexity. It looks at the role of municipalities and regional stakeholders and their relationships and collaborations to develop services and offers of general interest with a focus on newcomers. The project partners engage with territorial actors in carrying out, accompanying and evaluating pilot projects aimed at social, economic and cultural inclusion through cross-sectoral cooperation. The report at hand forms part of a work package (WP T1) led by Eurac Research, Institute for Regional Development, that analyses the overall project environment of PlurAlps.