Establishing, or Failing? That Is the (Puzzling) Question. An Attempt to Introduce a Complementary Currency


In 2015–16 in Valle d'Aosta – a small autonomous region in northwestern Italy – some local politicians entered into dialogue with each other and the population on the suitability of a complementary currency in the regional territory. Despite the willingness of the promoters, the complementary currency was not launched in the end, partly for contingent reasons (regarding, inter alia, the definition of new political priorities and alliances), partly because of issues that were structural in nature: i.e. lack of structural embeddedness hindering collective action, inter-group ties and personal trust; and a low degree of institutional trust and of institutional transparency. Taking this case into account, this article aims to deepen understanding of the socio-institutional conditions that may favor or, on the contrary, hinder monetary innovation in a local context. Specifically, we highlight the lack of compactness of the proposal – concerning objectives, timing and territorial scale of implementation – and the emergence of a logic of competition with other political and entrepreneurial actors of the territory as the main weaknesses of the project. Furthermore, we show that a balance between the public and private spheres, leading to a heterophile and polycentric network, is needed in order to facilitate the implementation of a complementary currency.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v13i1p540

Keywords: Complementary Currency; Money Creation; Local Development; Social innovation; Local Governments


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