Featured Story September-October 2014
An Analysis of Bilateral Project Consortia in the Case of Greece and Bulgaria

by Mr. Ioannis N. Katsikis, Doctoral Researcher

Interreg IV is an EU initiative financed under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which aims to stimulate interregional cooperation in the EU between the years 2007-2013. In this article we offer a first analytical view on the relations and the network developed through project partnerships within the European Territorial Cooperation Programme.

The Importance of Cross Border Collaboration in the Frame of the European Territorial Cooperation-ETC

Project collaboration initiatives have been actively supported by governments and international organizations, as the EU (Bukvova, 2010). According to a recent study sponsored by the European Commission ("Managing Authority of European Territorial Cooperation Programmes," 2012) cross-border cooperation helps transform regions located on either side of internal or external borders of the European Union into strong economic and social poles. In particular, cross-border actions are used as a development tool and are encouraged in a large variety of the fields, starting from entrepreneurship, the improvement of the joint management of natural resources, supporting links between urban and rural areas, improving access to transport and communication networks, developing joint use of infrastructure, administrative cooperation and capacity building, employment, community interaction, culture and social affairs. As the European Commission highlights in the same study, cross-border cooperation is essentially about "filling the gaps" through agreed cross-border "analysis and response" strategies, specifically formulated and tailored for each border region.

Methodological Approach

In our analysis, we assume that cooperation represents an intermediate-non-market and bilateral-hybrid governance mechanism between market and hierarchies, where both parties are jointly responsible for the project outcome. Cooperative agreements involve a mix of features of firms and markets. They resemble markets in that the partners remain separate parties, driven by their own interests. In this study we focus on studying project collaboration initiatives for development projects in the frame of the Programme Interreg IV: Greece-Bulgaria 2007-2013. We have performed a project and partner analysis in order to examine data relevant to the project's characteristics (e.g. priority axis, priorities and targets, number of the partners, partners, etc). For this, we formed a unified dataset of the projects undertaken in the Program, consisting of 90 projects that are implemented through the collaboration of 327 project partners. In this dataset we included information on the project title, the partners involved and their role in the project (lead partner, etc.), the priority axis, the intervention within which the project lies, project number, the final budget and the name of the partner, its nationality and its type. For the needs of our analysis we distinguish and categorize the different types of partners into six (6) categories:

1) Public Organizations, 2) Local Administration Authorities, 3) Non-Governmental Organizations - NGOs, 4) Universities, 5) Research Centres, and 6) Private Companies.

Empirical Findings

The results indicate the importance of the improvement of the quality of life for the regions of the two countries, which is assumed to be achieved through activities for the protection, management and the promotion of the environmental resources and the cooperation and networking on health and social welfare ?ssues-while the protection, management & promotion of cultural resources lags behind. Our data show that the majority of partners come from Greece (52.9%) and that Greek partners hold a more important role in the project implementation (65 lead partners, in contrast to 25 coming from Bulgaria). Additionally, the majority of partners, almost half of them (47.4%), come from the local administration authorities, emphasising thus the role of local administration in the development of cross border cooperation activities.

Conclusion and Discusion

The presence of local authorities in the projects is more important for the Bulgarian partners than it is for the Greek ones, while the presence of NGOs from Greece is more intense than for the Bulgarian ones. A large difference exists on the participation of private companies from the two countries, with 13 private firms coming from Greece and only three from Bulgaria. It seems that the local authorities of the region are the ones that mostly exploit the opportunities provided through the ETC Programme in order to expand or/and to integrate their scope of activities through the use of the financial resources gained and the development of collaborative projects with other organizations. The same happens for the NGOs from both the Greek and the Bulgarian side who see the ETC funding as an important opportunity to further expand their activities. Finally, what is interesting to mention is the fact that under the second priority axis "Accessibility" we see only the operation of local administration authorities and the lack of any other partner, a case rather problematic for the sustained development of the specific target.

Further research could focus on performing a social network analysis in order to identify and analyse the characteristics of the networks established between the collaborating partners. Such an approach would allow us to see who collaborates with whom and provide input on the criteria for partner selection. Additionally, a further analysis on historical and organizational contexts (Cassiman et al., 2009, p. 216) and on understanding how the structures and procedures employed can be understood in relation to previous and simultaneous courses of activity, to future plans, and to standard operating procedures, traditions, and the norms of their surroundings (Cassiman et al., 2010).


The work presented here was conducted as part of the project "ENTRE+GB: Greek-Bulgarian Network for Education and Training in Entrepreneurship: Models, Programmes and Virtual Enterprise Infrastructures" (Pr. No. 8089), funded by the European Territorial Cooperation Programme "Greece-Bulgaria 2007-2013" (INTERREG IV) and national funds.

Article based on the Katsikis I., and Fragidis G., (2012), An Analysis of Bilateral Project Consortia in the Case of Greece and Bulgaria, Intellectual Economics, Intellectual Economics, Vol. 6 Issue 4, p481


Bukvova, H. (2010), Studying Research Collaboration: A Literature Review, Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 10 (3). <http://sprouts.aisnet.org/10-3>.

Cassiman, B.; Di Guardo, M.C.; Valentini, G. (2009). "Organising R&D Projects to Profit From Innovation: Insights From Co-opetition." Long Range Planning 42 pp. 216-233.

Cassiman, B.; Di Guardo, M.C.; Valentini, G. (2010), "Organizing Links with Science: Cooperate or Contract? A Project-level Analysis." Research Policy 39, pp. 882-892.

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