Can Good Projects Succeed in Bad Communities? Collective Action in the Himalayas
AbstractThis paper examines, theoretically and empirically, the determinants of collective success in the maintenance of infrastructure projects. The empirical analysis employs primary data collected by the author on 132 community-maintained infrastructure projects in Northern Pakistan. Determinants are grouped into community-specific and project-specific factors, the latter identified using community fixed effects. The analysis shows that community-specific factors are important: Socially heterogeneous communities have poorly maintained projects and community inequality has a U-shaped relationship with maintenance. Project leaders are associated with higher maintenance, with attributes of hereditary leader households used as instruments for leader presence. However, the results suggest that the effects of project-specific factors are even larger. Specifically, complex projects are poorly maintained and inequality in project returns has a Ushaped relationship with maintenance. Increased community participation in project decisions has a positive effect on maintenance for non-technical decisions but a negative effect for technical decisions. Projects initiated by non-governmental organizations are better maintained than local government projects, as are projects made as extensions of old projects rather than anew. The findings are consistent with the theory and suggest that adverse community-specific factors, such as a lack of social capital, can be more than compensated for by better project design.
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