We study the Basque transformation process in the widest sense from a multidisciplinary perspective, incorporating the social, economic and human rights dimensions. This approach has enabled us to identify, study and compare the key elements of the Basque experience or Basque case with the main research centres at international level, highlighting the factors that differentiate innovation in Euskadi: the social and cultural dimension.
When we speak of the culture factor -”K” for Kultura in Basque- we refer to the value system represented in the collective narratives and beliefs that define us as a people and explain the decisions we have taken over the years. A society defines itself by how it acts in the face of specific situations. If it were not for this cultural factor, our K, all societies would respond in a similar way to the same challenges, and the results obtained would also be similar. This is not the case, however.
The evidence indicates that there are common values across different cases that show the impact of the cultural factor in the Basque model of competitiveness.
On the basis of what we have learned from studying the transformation process of Basque society, we work to drive transformation processes based on a Social Innovation Platform. We participate in several projects at the local and international levels, the starting point always being the cultural dimension of the community in question, with the aim of contributing deliberately and jointly to the next transformation.
We consider that these transformation processes begin with getting to know the needs of the community. To do so, we work to gain in-depth knowledge about what happens in each community, detect the challenges and opportunities, and the possibilities of change. It is also important to work with other stakeholders and create joint solutions to the needs detected so that, we can work in parallel on a new model or relationships between stakeholders.
We work on the basis that we are faced with complex problems and challenges that need new approaches. This is done under a system-based vision, with the aim of leading to a transformation that affects the whole system.
Our aim is that knowledge should reach society in general, both that generated by the centre and from working with other stakeholders. To achieve it, a factor is working together with both local stakeholders and members of our international partnership network. The pillars on which our dissemination work is based are as follows: the dissemination of the Basque model, sustainable human development and knowledge of social innovation processes.
We carry out the following programmes to do this:
- Open Akademia is a knowledge dissemination programme for Basque citizens, to contribute -through innovative ideas and concepts- to the creation of a sustainable human development model for our society in the future. The main aim of this travelling academy is to present citizens with the content and propositions for a sustainable Euskadi in a way that is both easy to understand and didactic.
- The Leaders of the future training programme is an initiative of Agirre Lehendakaria Center to share knowledge with young people who will play leadership roles in the future.
Why: the Basque experience
Agirre Center was created in 2013 from a doctoral thesis on the Basque experience of social and economic transformation by Lehendakari Ohia (Basque Government President) Juan Jose Ibarretxe: Ethical Principle, Democratic Principles and Sustainable Human Development: bases for a democratic model” (2010).
Dicha investigación relata cómo a finales de la década de los 70 Euskadi se hallaba inmersa en una profunda crisis económica, con altas tasas de paro y una imagen internacional directamente asociada a la violencia. Sin embargo, a través del autogobierno, de la colaboración público-privada, del desarrollo institucional o la clusterización Euskadi ha conseguido situarse entre los primeros puestos de los rankings de bienestar y forjarse una imagen asociada a la competitividad y al desarrollo humano sostenible.
What for: objective
In ALC’s early years we undertook a number of research projects based in Columbia University (AC4) around the Basque experience of socio-economic transformation. Of these, we would highlight Basque Sustainable Development, Basque Peace Process Scenarios y Lonergan Economics.
The results of these studies show that they key factor in understanding the Basque transformation – and also in building our future – lies in understanding the influence of cultural aspects in the strategic decisions taken: We are talking of shared values, the narratives that express this value system, and its individual and collective expressions.
ALC’s objective is to find new forms of applying and methodologizing the Basque experience and share them with districts, towns/cities or countries that wish to respond to similar challenges in an innovative way.