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When Does Community Conservatism Constrain Village Organizations?

Tanguy Bernard, Alain de Janvry () and Elisabeth Sadoulet ()

Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2010, vol. 58, issue 4, 609-641

Abstract: Formal village organizations can be classified into market-oriented (MO) and community-oriented (CO) organizations, with the former aimed at raising members' incomes and the latter at delivering local public goods. This study investigates the role of community conservatism in opposing economic differentiation and, thereby, constraining the emergence, configuration, and activities of MOs in West Africa. To do this, we develop a model where we show that, if these conservative forces are important, MOs need to be larger than would otherwise be optimal in order to gain acceptability and emerge. This, in turn, has an impact on their governance structure, as the needed extra members demand a more participatory decision-making process in order to secure the delivery of club goods, constraining the exercise of leadership. With very high community conservatism, no MO can emerge. Using a data set of 646 village organizations in Burkina Faso, we identify a sharp contrast in initial size and governance structure between the first MO to emerge in a village and subsequent MOs. This is consistent with the results of the model if first MOs face strong social conservatism, while the social environment is more tolerant for subsequent MOs. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Date: 2010
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