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The Basque experience of social and economic transformation within the last few decades (the so-called Basque model or Basque experience) features a series of outstanding quantitative indicators (GDP per capita, poverty rate, social public investment, educational levels, life expectancy, wealth distribution, etc.) and qualitative ones (social capital, resilience, innovation, public-private partnership). All of these accomplishments took place despite the extreme circumstances at the time (industrial collapse, end of a 40 year dictatorship, restoration of self-government and terrorist violence). 

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According to ALC researches, these indicators prove the existence of an imperfect, yet functioning alternative development model to those around us, that is equal and competitive at the same time. They advocate for projecting it as a large scale Social Innovation model, especially now that the European Commission bases its economic strategy on Inclusive Growth models.  

K factor: the K is the key 

Recent studies carried out by ALC in partnership with local and international entities indicate that the key to understand the social model fostered in the Basque Country lies mainly on cultural factors (narratives, beliefs and shared values), that have allowed an alternative and successful response to a difficult context (as mentioned above, industrial collapse, end of a 40 year dictatorship, restoration of self-government and terrorist violence). ALC calls this cultural factor or “K” factor in Basque. 

Integrating this “K”, along with values such as solidarity, to shared narratives on the Basque identity would explain why different attempts to replicate the Basque model in different contexts have always been unsuccessful, being unable to incorporate local cultural elements. These are the differentiating elements that could place value on the Basque competitiveness system beside those from other regions and countries around us. 

Despite the negative data dropping out in recent years (precarious jobs, increased poverty, raising inequality and self-government limitation), understanding better the keys to a successful socio-economic transformation experience (again, local culture and identity, competitiveness through equality and solidarity) offers a unique opportunity for the Basque society to take a stand in the global context. 

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Methodology

This research has an ethnographic approach. We will try to collect the diverse narratives around the Basque transformation and the values that are associated with it. Once we have defined this parameters, we will verify is these common values have been determinant to make some strategic decisions. Finally, we will analyze the validity of these values and narratives at the present time and we will compare them and put them in contrast with other international experiences.