Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Research Seminar Series (RSS)

Local Conflict and Development Projects in Indonesia: Part of the Problem or Part of a Solution?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Center for Global Development and The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies presented
a Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS)* on Local Conflict and Development Projects in Indonesia: Part of the Problem or Part of a Solution? featuring Michael Woolcock, Development Research Group, World Bank. Alasdair Bowie, Associate Professor, Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University, served as the discussant. 

Abstract: Drawing on an integrated mixed methods research design, we explore the dynamics of the development-conflict nexus in rural Indonesia, and the specific role of development projects in shaping the nature, extent, and trajectories of "everyday" conflicts, especially those generated by the projects themselves. We find that projects that give inadequate attention to dispute resolution mechanisms in many cases stimulate local conflict, by injecting development resources themselves or less directly by exacerbating pre-existing tensions in target communities. Projects that have explicit and accessible procedures for managing disputes arising from the development process, however, are much less likely to lead to violent outcomes. We argue that such projects are more successful in addressing project-related conflicts because they establish direct procedures (such as forums, facilitators and complaints mechanisms) for dealing with tensions as they arise. These direct mechanisms are less successful in addressing broader social tensions elicited by, or external to, the development process.

*Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS) series is an effort by the Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to take advantage of the incredible concentration of great international development scholars in the Metro Washington, DC area. The series seeks to bring together members of this community and improve communication between them.

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