- Can Good Projects Succeed in Bad Communities?
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- by Khwaja, Asim
- The lack of "social capital" is increasingly forwarded as an explanation for why communities
perform poorly. Yet, to what extent can these community-specific constraints be compensated? I
address this question by examining determinants of collective success in a costly problem in
developing economies—the upkeep of local public goods. One difficulty is obtaining reliable
outcome measures for comparable collective tasks across well-defined communities. In order to
resolve this I conduct detailed surveys of community-maintained infrastructure projects in Northern
Pakistan. The findings show that while community-specific constraints do matter, they can be
compensated by better project design. Inequality, social fragmentation, and lack of leadership in the
community do have adverse consequences but these can be overcome by changes in project
complexity, community participation and return distribution. Moreover, the evidence suggests that
better design matters even more for communities with poorer attributes. Using community fixed
effects and instrumental variables offers a significant improvement in empirical identification over
previous studies. These results offer evidence that appropriate design can enable projects to succeed
even in “bad” communities.
- Publication Type: WCFIA Working Paper
- Published Date: December 2007
- Field of Interest: Global Issues
- Khwaja, Asim. "Can Good Projects Succeed in Bad Communities?" Working Paper 2008-0076, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, December 2007.