The human factor in development cooperation: An effective way to deal with unintended effects
This article by Melle Leenstra in the journal Evaluation and Program Planning argues that following the human stories in development policy and implementation can offer surprising insights into why at times policies may work or not work. Development policy and implementation are a human endeavor. Too often, however, the human factor is relegated to an input or an externality in a quasi-technical process for transforming public funds into measurable results. Within the Weberian rational-legal order, policies and bureaucracies are impersonal and objective. Policy objectives tend to get depersonalized and the human stories get filtered out of impact evaluations. The article explores how the idiosyncrasies of individuals’ agency impacts on achievement of policy outcomes and what the unintended effects are. Additionally, it focuses in part on development intermediaries, and explore the broader impact that they may have in the long term to societal transformation. Several brief case descriptions, which show unintended outcomes are highlighted. The author describes how the human factor can give rise to beneficial unplanned, unforeseeable, and thus unintended policy outcomes. Leenstra argues that, instead of negating this, policy makers ought to embrace the human factor of development cooperation.