Combining the Capability Approach with Institutional Theory to Assess the Implementation of Development Project in Eastern Indonesia

Nugrohowardhani, Rambu L. K. R. (2014). 'Combining the Capability Approach with Institutional Theory to Assess the Implementation of Development Project in Eastern Indonesia' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

The capability approach and institutional theory have grown significant in development research and practice. Apart from each limitation both approaches offer analytical tools for interpreting development intervention. The capability approach considering institution as one of means of well-being, while the institutional theory understanding the social drivers that may inhibit or enable individuals from taking full advantage of resources for furtherance of their lives. A combined theoretical framework offers analytical and practical insights in terms of potential for stimulation and degradation of development goals, which could be overlooked when using any of the approaches in separation. In this paper I will explore the opportunities and challenges engaged in combining the capability approach into institutional theory in the field of development project using empirical evidence from a case study.  This paper begins with a thumbnail skecth of the core concepts of both approches, then articulates further to get a theoretical framework in using these approaches. The next part will describe the case study as empirical substantiation. The case study is about the implementation of National Cotton Acceleration Programme in Sumba, an island in the eastern part of Indonesia. As the area has semi-arid climate which is quite unique compared to other parts of Indonesia, farmers in Sumba have different characteristics. In general, they can be categorized in groups of dry land farmers because they live in areas with a typology of semi-arid climate. Such community has a different mode of production associated with the culture, the availability of natural resources, and the place where they live. The national cotton program has been conducted ambitiously in Sumba using mainstream economics assumption which focus on the availability of three production factors; land, natural resources, and employment. However, after 5 years of implementation the development project is not as expected. Result of the study shows that the National Cotton Acceleration Program in Sumba is unsuccessfull to boost local people's functioning and freedom due to not taken local institutional aspects into account. I argue that there are benefits for development projects of using the contrasting strength of the capability approach and institutional theory anaytical tools.  I also observe how enhanced capabilities can strengthen and develop institutions to achieve the ends of development for local community.

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