Powering institutions – credibility, enforcement and legitimacy
Conference contribution, 2016
Through analyzing a development project with a relatively successful institution building process, and contrasting it to a less successful project, this paper seeks to make a contribution to the literature on institution building in challenging contexts. It investigates a) how trust in an organization can be built in a context characterized by low levels of generalized trust, high levels of corruption and poor institutions (to the extent that people are prepared to invest in these organizations for long-term gain), and b) can free-riding problems can be handled in a local development project in a way that is both effective and legitimate. The analysis is based on an extensive empirical material, including 119 semi-structured interviews with project staff, villagers, and local and district government. The results point to the importance of a) a positive history of play, sustained over a substantial period of time, b) keeping distance from existing corrupt institutions, c) strict enforcement of the rules of the institution, and d) strict impartiality in enforcement.