Participatory Appraisal of Competitive Advantage is a method that allows to conduct an action-oriented appraisal of a local economy in just two weeks. PACA combines concepts such as competitive advantage, systemic competitiveness, rapid appraisal, and visualisation-based facilitation techniques into an innovative approach. PACA can be used

  • to kick-start or energise LED in a given location
  • as a toolkit to make ongoing LED activities more effective and efficient.

PACA has been introduced into more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. It is applied by dozens of LED facilitators. It has helped local stakeholders in hundreds of locations to better understand each other and their place, and to formulate effective LED activities.

1. Mesopartner Working Paper 01  
Participatory Appraisal of Competitive Advantage (PACA): Effectively Launching Local Economic Development Initiatives. In developing countries, there is an increasing awareness of the necessity to formulate and implement economic development strategies at the local level (local economic…  
2. Mesopartner Working Paper 06  
Regional Value Chain Initiatives: An Opportunity for the Application of the PACA-Approach. This paper contributes to the current discussion in the development community on options for value chain promotion. It specifically looks at regional value chains at the sub-national level, since this will…  
3. Tool 06: PACA  
Shawn Cunningham and Jorg Meyer-Stamer discuss the background, main characteristics and evolution of the Participatory Appraisal of Competitive Advantage (PACA) method.  
4. Case 05: Starting LED in a marble sculpture cluster in Vietnam  
Shawn Cunningham and Christian Schoen share insights from a PACA Exercise in the Marble Mountain cluster close to Da Nang, Vietnam. In particular, they discuss how slightly shady business practices impact on LED.  
5. PACA and Complexity - Reflections on Burundi  
In the light of recent discussions within Mesopartner on the use of complexity thinking in Local and Regional Economic Development (LRED), this article looks back at the Participatory Appraisal of Competitive Advantage (PACA) exercise in the community of Gisozi in Burundi in May–June 2013.  

Publications on PACA

How to conduct a PACA Exercise

Order a printed copy

Checklists for a PACA Exercise

Order a printed copy

How to introduce PACA: A Guide for Donor Organisations in International Development Cooperation