February 4, 2021
Through the lens of an economist’s notion of public goods, my new book analyzes the dual problems of declining communities and polarizing conflicts between metropolitan and rural communities. This macro-level Institutional approach identifies specific ways in which community-level challenges can negatively affect a larger voting public.
Defining Public Goods describes in detail how seemingly intractable community-level problems and inter-community conflicts have been substantially reduced by framing them in terms of the self-interest of a larger polity. Examples include the Federalist papers, written in defense of the U. S. Constitution, New Deal institutions created during the Great Depression, the post-World War II European Union, and more recent macro-level institutional changes that are assisting, in varying degrees, rural community sustainability and reducing ethnic conflicts in the U.S., Kenya, Rwanda and Russia.
My extensive research experience in urban and rural communities that covers multiple historical periods, will appeal to inter-disciplinary social scientists, development specialists and persons looking for a hopeful, practical approach to solving the challenges of globalization.
December 19, 2017
I just returned from Morocco, where I worked with a great team on a Local Works project that focuses on assisting local organizations in building civil society from the bottom up. The Moroccan government has made a commitment to building “intermediary service organizations” (ISOs) that coordinate and advocate for NGOs throughout the country. Our team visited women’s and disability ISOs that are advocating for their constituent members. The USAID mission in Morocco is assisting in this effort, supporting the Local Systems approach of our team, which is led by LINC (linclocal.org).
May 18, 2015
An Incredible Work and Personal Experience in Rwanda
I was in Rwanda from April 25th to May 2nd as a consultant on a USAID Cooperative Seed Development Project. The project is going fine, and I will fill you in later as we get some results, but now I want to comment on the exhilaration of working in a place that went through a horrific period, the genocide in the 1990s, but through reconciliation and honest political leadership has really turned the corner.
A couple of vignettes illustrate my point:
- The infrastructure, especially the roads on the drive from the capital into the rural areas, is in amazingly great shape, which is evidence of lack of corruption.
- No politician siphoning off money and leaving huge potholes.
- Plastic bags have been outlawed, everything is immaculately clean, grass moved, flowers and shrubs in the median strips, and, most important,
- it is perfectly safe walking in the capital at night.
- Our car was stopped for speeding and the police officer simply wrote up a ticket and did NOT look for a bribe.
- Finally, perhaps the impressive part of the whole experience was the transparency of the people we interviewed, whether small farmer members of cooperatives in focus group meetings or various partners in the value chain, like seed and fertilizer suppliers. This place works!!
May 10, 2015
The Underrepresentation of Women in Leadership Positions in Rural Russia – Rural Sociology 2015
This paper reports on a survey that asked a sample of men and women why they thought that women were underrepresented in positions of leadership in large agricultural enterprises and management of small household farms in Russia. Both men and women downplayed the role of outright discrimination and instead focused on traditional cultural definitions of household responsibilities of women and the supposed “natural” advantages of men in leadership positions. Interestingly, male as well as female respondents supported increased training and more help from husbands at home as a way to promote more women in leadership positions.
May 10, 2015
Measuring the Benefits of Smallholder Farmer Membership in Producer Controlled Vertical Value Chains – Survey Findings from a Development Project in East Africa
This paper reports on a study that identifies reasons why some smallholder farmers become members of East African Dairy Cooperatives while other households elect not to join. Although members receive a slight advantage over non-members in income, the primary reasons for membership involve trust that the cooperative will treat them fairly and reliability. The cooperatives in the survey vary considerably in the other benefits that they provide to their members, such as credit for purchase of farm inputs. The study points to both the opportunities and challenges facing smallholder cooperatives in developing countries as they aspire to get further into the value chain and improve the lives of their members, and, in particular the importance of social capital.
January 23, 2011
I have spent two and half weeks in Uganda and Kenya on as Consultant on project designed to facilitate the development of coordinated dairy cooperatives. The demographics (lots of young people) and the general enthusiasm of the Kenyans and Ugandans left me with a great deal of hope for this part of the world and a strong feeling that Africa may be a force in bringing new life to tired Western countries. That thought was reinforced at a Roman Catholic Mass I attended in Nairobi this morning. More later.
January 8, 2011
I arrived in Kampala (Entebbe Airport), Uganda late last night (Friday, January 7th). I am part of team on a USAID research project designed to better understand what factors lead to successful integrated dairy cooperatives in emerging economies, especially organizational models that produce value-added projects that will increase household incomes. Most of the dairy farms in Uganda and Kenya, as in most of the developing world, are very small and usually operated by women. This project is led by Land O’ Lakes Foundation, a non-governmental organization that was created by the Land O’ Lakes Dairy Cooperative. This foundation has conducted a large number of projects around the world, with the aim of developing cooperatives in emerging economies.
We are going into the field tomorrow. A few initial impressions of life in Kampala, from my stay of less than 24 hours. First, the most striking observation for me is the demographic differences between the US/Europe and what one sees on the street in an emerging economy like Uganda. The urban population is very young, lots of young adults who have left the villages and have to the city for work. This mirrors a demographic shift that occurred in Europe and the US in the 19th and early 20th century. Another observation is the huge number of automobiles on the road and the concurrent amount of air pollution. Even in a relatively poor country like Uganda carbon emissions may be problematic.
August 23, 2010
This fall I will be traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia and Hangzhou, China to present results of research on entrepreneurship among rural Russian households.