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Community Capacity and Governance – New Approaches to Development and Evaluation

by Banyai, Cindy Lyn, PhD

Page 131

residents Association destination

Bungotakada Resources – Recognized under
utilized resources of old buildings,
Showa era items, memories and
skills of the local people and

Commerce and
Industry Association

Creation of
Showa Town and
economic growth

Source: Author

This section focused on the concept of community capacity and the four attributes of
community capacity, the sense of community, commitment, the ability to set and achieve
objectives, and the ability to recognize and access resources. The attributes were clarified
through case examples to demonstrate both their importance and manifestation in reality.

Each of the cases of Imori-dani, Ajimu, Yufuin, and Bungotakada depict a particularly strong
attribute of community capacity, as well as varied agents and actions. The questions of what the
attributes look like in context, how they are connected, and how they contribute to the A-A-A
cycle of community capacity were answered. The attributes manifest in various ways in a
community and can be inspired by government interventions (as in the case of Imori-dani and the
Vision Building Workshop), a private business (as in the case of Ajimu Winery), outside experts
(as in the case of Yufuin with Dr. Honda and the study tours to Germany), or a desire for
economic advancement by both the government and local business (as in the case of
Bungotakada). And once there is a spark in the community capacity, the A-A-A cycle goes into
motion and proceeds to produce more community capacity and more varied and sophisticated
activities within the community.

Through answering these questions and showing the ways that the attributes appear and
contribute to the cycle of community capacity, a conceptual framework and understanding of the
role that community capacity plays are developed. This framework is particularly useful for
practitioners and policy makers because it begins to show the interconnectedness of the
development of community capacity and the community’s ability to progress proactively. The
concepts here can be further developed into a theory, but for now they serve the conceptual basis
of community capacity and inspiration for others wishing to inquire about it for the purpose of
making policy and planning more effective and relevant to people.

2.3. Community Agents4

A community agent can be defined as any actor that brings about change within the
community. Although the concept of identifying agents for change in a community is not
necessarily a new one, community agents specify more than individuals and are an integral part
of the A-A-A cycle. “Community capacity is engaged through varying combinations of three
levels of social agency: individuals, organizations, and networks of association (Chaskin et al.,
2001, p. 19).” Agents are able to garner influence and shift opinions through charisma,
argumentation, or other methods of encouragement (NDI, 2009, p. 7).


Se c t i o n 5 . 2 . 3 i s p a r t o f a n a r t i c l e pub l i s h e d i n Ru r a l Soc i e t y , Vo l . 19 ,
No . 3 , Oc t ob e r 2009


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Through these agents community capacity can be utilized and built; thus, they are the main
facilitators of community capacity. Capacity building strategies, as well as local interventions
and policy, often identify these specific agents within a target community to enact their plans.

Individual agents can be local leaders and other people within the community. The individual
level of social agency concerns the human capital and leadership of individual residents of a
community, as well as their skills, knowledge, resources, and participation in community
activities (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 19). Individuals and their ability to leverage social change are
particularly important in this study due to the nascent functioning of community organizations
and the difficulty of networking in a developing community.

Organizations can also be agents within a community. Examples of organizational social
agents include the local government, community-based organizations, local businesses, schools,
and small local groups. These groups can collectively invoke change within a community and
spur other individuals and organizations into action when necessary.

The network level of social agency is executed through the relationship between individuals,
informal groups, as well as formal organizations (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 20). Networks as
agents can also be considered as social capital, because they allow people to broaden their scope
and resource attainment capabilities.

Table 7 provides an overview of the basic indicators for community agents.


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Table - Indicators for community agents

Agent Criteria

Individuals Formal leaders in government, businesses, organizations, or

Informal leaders (e.g. people of reverence, clout, or high civic

Established groups (e.g. social organizations, commercial
associations, religious groups, age-related groups, government
sponsored organizations)

Informal civil society organizations (e.g. recreation leagues,
neighborhood constellations)

Government agencies
Educational institutes
Networks Interpersonal networks (through families and acquaintances)
Organizational networks
Political networks
Business network

Source: Author, based on Chaskin et al., 2001

These indicators can help to identify the various agents in a community and are based on the
description of community agents offered previously (based on Chaskin et al., 2001), with some
practical elaborations. It should be noted that these indictors only offer a rough guide, as each
case will offer their own unique agents.

2.3.1. Community Leadership

Since agents contribute to community capacity and perform actions and they do so through
leadership, it is prudent to understand how they contribute to this process. Furthermore,
leadership has been recognized as a key component of community development (Angell, 1951;
Coe, 1987; Kirk & Shutte, 2004; Laslo & Judd, 2006; Sastry & Srinivasan, 2007) and identified
as a community capacity building strategy to promote community participation (Chaskin et al.
2001, p. 27; McGuire Rubin, Agranoff, & Richards, 1994, p. 427).

Leadership and community agents play a major role in the construction and implementation
of successful activities in a community. Community leadership enables members of the
community to take initiative to pursue the vision of the community, as well as realize community
objectives. This section discusses the role of agents and their importance in both utilizing and
fostering community capacity, as well as the development of community leadership to achieve
improvements in the lives of community members.

Community leadership is a component and an outcome of community capacity. This is
highlighted by some of the singular instances of leadership and how those instances facilitated
the growth of community capacity and the progression toward community leadership on the
island of Himeshima, Japan. Community leadership is the outcome of the singular leadership
initiatives of various agents and community capacity building through successful actions.


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Community leadership, as it is understood here, combines the principles of leadership that
are proactive in a group context such as organizational, distributed, evocative, participative and
cultural leadership (Bass, 1981; Coe, 1987; Goldstein, 2003; Kezar, 2000; Kime, 2001; Kirk &
Shutte, 2004; Trice & Beyer, 2001). Organizational leadership is ‘the capacity of the
organization to respond to endogenous and exogenous stimuli, which present themselves as
challenges, opportunities, and threats to the organization (Kime, 2001, p.2).’ This definition
looks at the leadership capacity, the ability to respond, that an entire organization embodies, not
just of a few individuals. This concept can be applied to a community to describe the way in
which various community agents can take leadership action and respond when necessary (see
discussion on viewing a community as a system or an organization earlier in this chapter).

In the past, many authors studied community leadership by investigating individual leaders
(Angell, 1951; Bonjean & Olsen, 1964; Morris & Seeman, 1950) without much consideration for
the capacity of the community as a system to be able to undertake various acts of leadership.
Contemporarily, a few authors have begun to consider the ability of the community to promote
leadership activity within its constituents (Millar & Kilpatrick 2005; Wituk, Ealey, Clark, Heiny,
& Meissen, 2005). Kirk and Shutte (2004) recognized that leadership within the community
system is a process of mediating various roles (p. 236).

M P Vasimalai, Founder and Executive Director of Development of Humane Action
(DHAN) Foundation, a professional development organization in India, states that initiatives in a
community start with a charismatic personality, but that cannot be sustained and leadership must
be institutionalized to avoid exulting a personality (Sastry & Srinivasan, 2007, p. 385).
Vasimalai’s point of view supports the concept of community leadership as being distributed and
institutionalized within a local community and it culture (see also Trice & Breyer, 1991).

Angell (1951) recognized that closed power systems are not conducive for community
leadership (p. 103; see also Kime, 2001, p. 15) and the continual need for new leaders (p. 106).
Coe (1987) revealed that projects and organizations that have wide stakeholder involvement in
leadership roles were more successful (p. 83; see also Goldstein, 2003). These points lend
themselves to the idea that leadership that is practiced and available to potentially any member of
the community is ideal. Bass (1981) recognized that power can be shared between individual
leaders and other community members and in such circumstances the members become as
influential as the leader and a process develops between the various agents (p. 192; see also
Goldstein, 2003; Kezar, 2000).

Millar & Kilpatrick (2005) define community leadership as leadership within communities of
different people who come together in collaborative endeavor (p. 237). Wituk and colleagues
(2005) describes community leadership as being “based on the idea that leaders are everywhere”
and that community leadership also “increases social capital in a community by bringing people
together (p. 90).” Wituk and colleagues (2005) also note that it “emphasizes a collaborative, ongoing,
influential process based on the relationships between people” and “when [leadership is]
defined as a relationship, all participants are practicing leadership to some extent, depending on
the situation and required skills (p. 90).”

Kirk and Shutte (2004) define community leadership as “leadership within communities of
different people who come together in collaborative endeavor (p. 237).” Their definition
incorporates ideas of organizational and distributed leadership.

The definition of community leadership used here is a collaborative process where any
member of the community has the capacity to take action in response to or influence the
objectives of the community. Therefore, this work departs slightly from other concepts of


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community leadership by insisting that the process of leadership can manifest in any agent given
the appropriate amount of community capacity and circumstance.

Based on the findings from Himeshima, Figure 18 shows the various stages toward the
development of community leadership. Individual leaders start taking action, which facilitates
the growth of community capacity. This, in turn, fosters more leadership initiatives and expands
the number and variety of Agents until any stakeholder can potentially become a leader (actiontaker/decision-maker),
thus achieving community leadership. In other words, community
leadership is achieved when there is a robust and diverse amount of agents engaged in
community activities.

Figure - Progression of leadership

Source: Author, based on Himeshima case

Consistent with these points, individual leadership and community leadership have many
connections with community capacity. Leadership, as a process, can then be linked to the A-A-
A cycle, which is also a process. It is then the influence that the agents have to affect actions that
make them individual leaders. There is a group context that exists within a community, both in
seeing the entire community as one system and within smaller sub-groups within the community.
Goal attainment is consistent with the concept of setting and achieving objectives, one of the
attributes. Therefore, it can be seen that any agent in a community can demonstrate leadership,
and it is precisely this leadership that allows them to escort the community toward action.

Community leadership connects people and empowers them to pursue their individual and
collective goals, thus allowing community members to take ownership of collective goals (Kirk
& Shutte, 2004, p. 241; Reed, 2001, p. 2). This shows how community leadership is related to
the sense of community through the establishment of common goals and commitment through
the development of ownership of those collective goals. Sense of community is necessary for
effective leadership (Angell, 1951, p. 108) and can be developed by agents taking leadership

The collective empowerment that is gained through community leadership is a contributing
factor to the promotion of the A-A-A cycle through facilitating the development of the
relationships between community members, and clarifying the purpose, meaning, and value of


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the contributions of individual community members (Kirk & Shutte, 2004, p. 242). Community
leadership helps to develop a “new shared vision for the future to reflect the collective needs of
the group (Millar & Kilpatrick 2005, p. 20).”

In order to get commitment from community members, there must be a common will and
effort to support this on behalf of the leader (Angell, 1951, p. 108). This further reinforces the
link between sense of community and commitment and links leadership to the A-A-A cycle in
this respect.

Community leadership also contributes to the ability of a community to set and achieve
objectives by facilitating the ability of the agents to perform functions, adopt new functions, and
to innovate (Yukl, 1998, p. 12). This helps the community in general to cope with external and
internal challenges (Kime, 2001, p. 2). The challenges a community faces are often the impetus
for the formulation of community objectives and the search for resources. Community
leadership helps to both identify these challenges and set the course to overcome them and obtain
the necessary resources (Kime, 2001, pp. 11-12).

Like the A-A-A cycle, the progression of leadership toward community leadership can be
both a means for development and a desirable outcome of it, which can be seen through the
emphasis on broad leadership development as a community capacity building and development
strategy. High levels of leadership capacity are partly due to commitment to the community
(Kime, 2001, p. 126). This demonstrates the interconnectedness of the concepts of community
leadership and community capacity. One might envision the A-A-A cycle spiraling up the
inverted pyramid figure demonstrating leadership progression with higher levels of community
capacity being synonymous with a diffused leadership structure and multitudes of agents.

Community leadership is an ideal way to view leadership within a community because of the
reality of people working together in groups or organizations, dealing with political interests and
power discrepancies, by placing more emphasis on collaboration through plurality and
inclusivity (Kirk & Shutte, 2004, p. 237).

The next section looks at the case of Himeshima Japan and its progression of leadership by
various actors during different phases of the community’s development and subsequent
revitalization. Himeshima


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Himeshima is a small island, 17

kilometers in circumference and 7.2 square kilometers in area, just off the shore of the Kunisaki Peninsula in
Oita prefecture, Japan (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 1). It has a population of roughly 2,500 (Fujimoto, 2008c, p. 1),

which is declining due both to gentrification and low youth retention. People in Himeshima are mainly
involved in coastal fishing and prawn cultivation. The prawn industry in Himeshima is particularly notable
because of their award for the OVOP campaign in 1981 and the product’s considerable national recognition
and sway of market values of their flagship products, tiger prawns (known in Japan as kuruma ebi or car
prawns) and flatfish (Fujimoto, 2008a). Other items of interest in Himeshima include the children’s ‘fox
dance’ during the annual Bon festival in August, the prawn festival in October, and migratory butterflies.

There is only one village on the island of Himeshima, and there is a recognition by the people
living there for the need to work together to develop the island. “The united efforts of the
villagers are pointed out as a characteristic in the development of this village. Since a single
village exists on this island, villagers need to cooperate with each other (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 5).”

The following discussion describes the policy structure, community capacity, and the various
Agents of Himeshima through its pre-development, initial development and revitalization phases.
The information for this case study has been gathered through several observations, unstructured
interviews, lectures, and from documents written by Mayor Akio Fujimoto, Mr. Hidenori Itai of
Harikomou-kai, and Mrs. Satomi Daikai of the Himeshima Women’s Association between 2007
and 2009 as a part of JICA trainings for rural development and community capacity. Following
the discussion of the development periods, the implications and the lesson learned from
Himeshima will be presented. Before the development of Himeshima

Himeshima was designated as a region that needed special attention for development in 1957
by the national government of Japan. At that time, the island had little in the way of access to
electricity, fresh water supplies, medical services, or hard infrastructure such as roads and ports
(Fujimoto 2008b, p. 1). The people were primarily involved in subsistence agriculture, some
coastal fishing, and salt production. The maintenance of fishing resources through collectively
limiting the amounts of the catch is well-known around Japan as the Himeshima Method. Salt
production was not a particularly lucrative practice and consumed large portions of land. In
response to this, there was a movement initiated by the national government to encourage
developing regions to discontinue salt production in lieu of more profitable and sustainable
economic activities.


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The first step of economic development in Himeshima was the discontinuation of salt
production, a traditional occupation on the island since the seventeenth century. During the
implementation of a national policy to shift away from salt production, a national legislator,
Eichi Nishimura, who hailed from Himeshima, encouraged the people of Himeshima by saying
“Don’t swim against the tide of times….we should… think about the future (Fujimoto, 2008a, p.
1).” With this in mind, the people of Himeshima were able to cease producing salt, the first
village in Japan to do so under the national policy (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 1). Mr. Nishimura
exercised his political power to ensure that the national government was aware of the plight of
rural areas and remote islands, like Himeshima. This emphasis helped to make funds for
development available to those areas and the local government of Himeshima used this political
network to maximize their share of financial assistance.

It was during this preliminary development period, around 1950, that organizational activities
on Himeshima began. Under the suggestion of the national government, the Himeshima
Women’s Association was formed to contribute to the social development of the community.
During the most arduous times on the island, the Women’s Association helped connect people in
the village with their daily necessities (Daikai, 2009).

Table 8 shows the policy structure of Himeshima before development (prior to 1960). The
table reflects a very basic policy structure with minimal activities resulting in overall poor living
conditions. Community actions are described here as a policy structure using the logic
framework (see JICA, 2004; AusGUIDElines, 2003; Miyoshi & Stenning, 2008).

End Outcomes

Table - Himeshima's policy structure (actions) before development

Outcomes Outputs Activities Inputs

production Labor

Poor living
Small incomes

Himeshima Method

Sense of

Lack of amenities


Small amount of fish
sold in local markets

Stable fish supply

Cessation of salt

Himeshima Women’s


e of fishing

to stop salt

Creation of
group for




Source: Author


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Himeshima was identified as a target for development due to its position as an isolated
island, resulting in a simple and difficult way of life. The people in the community did not have
many opportunities to develop their community capacity due to the arduous and time consuming
occupations they were pursuing under difficult circumstances. Based on the presentations from
Mayor Fujimoto, the organization Harikomo-kai, and the Himeshima women’s group and
inferences from the policy structure model, an analysis of the community’s capacity attributes
before development is offered in Table 9.


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Sense of Community

Table - Community capacity attributes in Himeshima before development

Ability to set and achieve objectives
Ability to recognize and access resources
Identity as salt producers and fishers
Minimal goals
Collective maintenance of fishing resources
Fearful of change
Use only sea – salt and fish

Source: Author

People were proud of their salt production (Fujimoto 2008a, p. 1) and it was an integral part
of their community identity. However, at this point in time, there were few other goals and
objectives shared by the community.

A fledgling example of the commitment of the people of Himeshima can be seen though the
Himeshima Method. The collective fishing resource management through the Himeshima
Method provided a sense of pride and identity among the community and provided a base
through which further community capacity could be built. Otherwise, the people of Himeshima
were consumed by their own occupation in a struggle for survival, which did not lead itself to
time for investments in community activities or advancement. This daily struggle may have
contributed to the resistance to change that was experienced by many in the community,
especially those involved in salt production (Fujimoto 2008a, p. 1). Since their focus was solely
on their most apparent and abundant resource, the sea, it was difficult for the people in
Himeshima to actively identify and utilize other assets at their disposal. Table 10 shows the
Agents in Himeshima prior to its development.

Table - Himeshima's community agents before development




National Government
Salt producers
Women’s Association
Political network of

Source: Author

Mayor A. Fujimoto briefly discussed the course of events in the town’s history leading up to
development, but there was little discussion about leaders during that time. The salt producers
were voicing their concern about abandoning their occupation, but were not organized and
eventually were overruled. The Japanese national government took the lead in developing needy
regions around the country by identifying them, foster policies they found to be proactive, and
providing funding support for their policies. However, outside of the administrative leaders in
Himeshima, there was no mention of outstanding individual leaders prior to development. This
lack of a prominent leader is a key point when considering community development, which can
be seen in the later periods of Himeshima’s development, when the leadership of individuals,
organizations, and networks eventually empower the people to take action under their own

While Eichi Nishimura is an example of an individual leader that, through several instances
of singular leadership and the utilization of business and political networks, contributed to the


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