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Community Capacity and Governance – New Approaches to Development and Evaluation

by Banyai, Cindy Lyn, PhD


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Himeshima still has many key individual leaders; however due to the development of a more
diffused leadership, as can be seen in the larger and more influential role being played by
organizations and residents, those individual actors play a less prominent and crucial role.
Himeshima has achieved a form of community leadership, because nearly any person is any
sector or position feels at liberty to take leadership action to further progress the vision of the
community. This can be seen specifically through Harikomou-kai, work sharing and the
women’s group.

More organizations are actively involved in the activities on Himeshima than they had been
during other periods on the island. This is true, even though contemporarily organizational
activity is on the decline. The local government acts as an organization that leads the
community, which can be seen through work sharing and their sacrifices to ensure enough
finances to support adequate health care on the island. The fishing cooperative also acts as a
leader through their participation in the festivals and in Harikomou-kai.

Harikomou-kai is a reflection of the level of community leadership that has been achieved in
Himeshima to date, because it is a multi-actor group. The members of the group are from nearly
every segment of the village and others are encouraged to participate as volunteer members if
they wish to contribute, gain technical knowledge, or have a specific concern (Itai, 2008). It can
be seen that Harikomou-kai is a manifestation of community leadership, and it directly
contributes to the community capacity of Himeshima through trainings and information sharing,
setting and achieving objectives for the revitalization project, and providing a forum for the
development of the sense of community through collective efforts for Blue Tourism.

Another important mode for the development of community leadership is the Himeshima
Women’s Association. Although the organization has several official positions, they promote
leadership in all of their members by advocating for its members to become active in the events
and activities of the group. It should be noted that they do not mandate participation in the group
or its activities, yet the women choose to participate when they like for the projects that inspire
them. Mrs. Daikai noted that they typically do not have to cajole members to contribute or
participate and that they do on their own accord. This concept of promoting free involvement of
the members allows them to take leadership and initiative on their own terms, and does not
impede the ability of the association to perform its desired functions, rather it enhances that
ability. The women’s group is also taking part in training the future leaders of Himeshima by
focusing public awareness campaigns on the island’s children.

Through working with JTB to promote tourism on the island, the community of Himeshima
gained access to the market network that the international company has. JTB as a network agent
provides a key link to external resources that otherwise could not be met alone on the island.

The progression of the community capacity of Himeshima has led the A-A-A cycle to
produce a variety of agents through which activities are conducted. Leadership has become
more distributed among organizations and individuals in Himeshima in comparison to their
historical reliance on a few strong leaders and their networks.

2.3.1.1.4. Implications from Himeshima

By looking at Tables 7, 10, and 13 it can be seen that the community policy structure became
more complex and sophisticated as Himeshima progressed through the A-A-A cycle moving
from the simple use of natural resources, to cultivation, branding and infrastructure development,

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to include human resource development, endeavors into the service industry, and social
development.

There were few identifiable examples of community capacity before development began in
Himeshima, as can be seen in Table 13. The scant amounts of community capacity grew through
the Mayor Kumao Fujimoto period, Table 16, as the prawn cultivation industry flourished on the
island. However, recently, as reflected in Table 19, there are significant amounts of community
capacity attributes, which is due to the varied activities and emphasis on the improvement of
social condition in the village in the recent policy structure.

The policy structure in Himeshima became more diverse and sophisticated, and the
community capacity attributes became more robust. Concurrent with both of these trends, the
leadership on Himeshima developed from singular instances of leadership of individuals and
networks with external actors, to more broad occurrences of leadership, which can be described
as community leadership. The community agents of Himeshima-- the several individual,
network, and organizational leaders that demonstrated several instances of singular leadership --
ushered in increases of community capacity and promoted further community leadership.

The individual leadership examples of Mayor Kumao Fujimoto, Dr. Motosaku Fujinaga, and
Mayor Akio Fujimoto inspired, influenced and helped to shape the community of Himeshima,
which contributed to the enhancement of their community capacity and the sustainable
development of the island. These individual leaders developed interpersonal, business, and
political networks that then in turn contributed to the promotion of other types of leadership,
individual, group and community, and again fostered community capacity and economic
advances. The group leadership displayed by Harikomou-kai and the Himeshima Women’s
Association further progressed leadership and community capacity in Himeshima and has
resulted in fairly widespread community leadership. Tables 11, 14, and 17 can be referenced to
see the enumeration and variation of Himeshima’s leaders.

Figure - Progression toward community leadership in Himeshima

Source: Author

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The progression of leadership from individual leaders to community leadership can be seen
in Figure 20. Before the development of the village there were few instances of leadership
locally, with the community relying on networks with external agents to achieve objectives.
However, through the leadership of the mayors other individual leaders were encouraged and
organizations and groups such as the Himeshima Prawn Cultivation Company began to take on
leadership activities. These new community agents contributed to the growth of community
capacity, creating more actions and more agents, especially those that contributed to widespread
community actions such as the Himeshima Women’s Association, Harikomou-kai, and work
sharing, which led to the development of community leadership.

By describing the case of Himeshima, a better understanding of the significance of
community capacity and the effects of community agents in relation to community leadership
have been highlighted. Community leadership is the ideal outcome of community capacity
development, insofar as it enables any member of the community to take initiative in
correspondence with the community vision and specific objectives. Community leadership
ensures that the community thrives and grows over time and across different environmental,
situational and even political changes (Kime, 2001, p.11). Community agents should be striving
for community leadership in an effort to promote and sustain community capacity in the long
run, rather than placing sole leadership responsibility on a few individuals, organizations, or
networks, because their effectiveness will only run concurrently with their popularity.

The A-A-A cycle of community capacity is facilitated by community agents and their
individual instances of leadership at first, but as the cycle progresses, more agents are enacted
thereby fostering the development of community leadership. These progressions can be seen
through the case of Himeshima as the community focus moved from salt production to prawn
cultivation to service through tourism, and both community capacity and community leadership
evolved simultaneously. The singular instances of leadership facilitated the progression of the
A-A-A cycle to produce a more mature policy structure with more varied and sophisticated
outcomes, higher levels of community capacity, and more leadership. As policy structure
evolves, community capacity grows, and community leadership is developed.

Leadership interventions strategies are one way that community capacity can be improved
(Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 12); however, many feel there is little known about how leadership can
actually be cultivated and spread through a community (Wituk et al., 2005, p. 90; Kime, 2001, p.
9). This is especially noticeable since many leadership initiatives are sector and individual
focused (see Wituk et al. 2005) and fail to recognize the opportunity and benefit of building
leadership capacity throughout the community (Wituk et al., 2005, p. 90). Although the specific
avenues for the development of leadership may be difficult to articulate, by focusing on
community capacity building and the development of community leadership the overall
condition of a community can be improved and sustained. Furthermore, the end outcome of
community policy structures should include attributes of community capacity and community
leadership, and the community capacity building opportunities inherent in leadership
interventions should not be ignored.

Understanding that communities are complex systems made up of multiple stakeholders with
layered links with various needs and desires requires a new concept and understanding of
leadership, community, and the role of community agents. Conceptualizing these complex
relationships and functions of a community is more likely to render useable analytical
frameworks for policy creation, leadership promotion, and other development strategies; since
that conceptualization is more akin to reality and thus the production of realistic and practical

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strategy development (Kime, 2001 p. 9; Kirk & Shutte, 2004, p. 237). This paper has laid the
preliminary conceptual groundwork for consideration of the importance of community leadership
and the connective role that community agents play in terms of fostering community capacity
and achieving desired outcomes.

2.4. Community Actions

Community actions are the work a community performs (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 22). In
essence, it is a greater amount of community actions that community capacity building seeks to
achieve. The ability of the community to better perform community functions and engage in
sophisticated action is related to governance and the ability of the community to effectively
participate.

Actions can include routine tasks such as local budgeting, administration and planning, as
well as problem-solving and community improvement initiatives. Additional community
functions include the production of goods and services, communication and organization and
advocacy. Chaskin and colleagues (2001) use the term information dissemination; however
within this paradigm information is not merely disseminated from top-down, rather spread both
vertically and horizontally. Communication is used in lieu of information dissemination to parlay
the importance of multidimensional information sharing from bottom-up, top-down, as well as
between peers.

Table 17 outlines the four categories of community actions and their relevant indicators. The
categories of community actions and their indicators have been adapted from the community
functions as described in the Chaskin Framework.

Table - Community action indicators

Community Action Criteria
Governance; Planning Local budgeting
and Decision-making Local administrative functions (oversight of

situations within the locality and public goods
and services, response to citizens, accumulation
and reporting of local data)
Project planning and execution
Participatory methods utilized for planning and

evaluation
Production of Goods Locally made goods for local markets
and Services Locally made goods for external markets

Basic services provided locally
Production of secondary goods
Communication Various modes of interpersonal communication

Technology-based communication
Public modes of mass communication
Avenues through which information can be
disseminated (free from censor or repression)

Organization and Development of local groups to serve local
Advocacy needs and issues

Freedom of association
Issue-based groups and communications

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Evidence of actions taken in response to issuespecific
advocacy

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

Community capacity can be conceptualized as both a process and an outcome (Mendis-
Millard & Reed, 2007, p. 545; Seagert, 2005, p. 10; Chaskin et al., 2001, p.21): a cycle of actions
utilizing local resources to build on attributes to achieve more sophisticated local policy structure
(Saegert, 2005; as related to social capital Putnam, 1993; Putnam & Pharr, 2000). The
community capacity cycle not only contributes to the social and political development of a
community, but also allows the community to produce more sophisticated goods and services;
thus, the community is better able to participate in the global economy and strengthen its overall
economic situation. Interventions and policies should be formulated around the attributes.

A further aim of community capacity is to achieve improved outcomes through better
services, greater influence on public policy decision-making, and economic well-being. Through
the A-A-A cycle of community capacity other outcomes can be achieved, and these outcomes
can also, in turn, foster further community capacity development. However, these outcomes are
more long term in nature and will result only from a healthy capacity cycle.

When actions occur and become more sophisticated through policy interventions and projects
that involve the community, the attributes of community capacity are fortified (Saegert, 2005;
Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 22) and the progress of the A-A-A cycle can be seen. This idea is
reinforced by researchers in the fields of community building and social capital (Putnam, 1993;
2000). Any community-based activity brings numerous personal and community-wide benefits,
thereby fortifying the overall capacity of the community and leading to increasingly
sophisticated community actions and policy structures (Miyoshi, 2006; Miyoshi & Stenning,
2008). In this way, an articulated understanding of the community capacity in an area through a
comprehensive analysis of the A-A-A can enhance poverty alleviation efforts and rural
development. As a community cycles through the A-A-A, their overall capacity and ability to
set and achieve objectives relevant to their community increases and leads to more beneficial
community actions (in terms of public policy structure, public service delivery, and private
entrepreneurial activities). A higher level of actions will then lead back to a greater amount of
community capacity (including the ability to recognize and obtain resources), which inherently
reflects development and the potential for poverty alleviation through an increase in resources.
Community capacity ensures that a community can perform these basic functions, indicating the
importance of better understanding, assessing, and developing community capacity.

The relationship between the A’s and the maturation of local policy structure is illustrated
through the case of Himeshima explicitly, and through the narrative cases from rural Japan.
These cases contribute to the evidence that the A-A-A framework does indeed function in a
cycle.

2.5. Contextual Influences

Contextual influences are the backdrop of the A-A-A cycle because they can affect any
portion of the community capacity cycle. Qualities and amounts of the contextual influences
may fluctuate over time and therefore need to be assessed and considered contemporarily with
the rest of the A-A-A cycle. Through analyzing the entire framework, including the contextual

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influences, a holistic and comprehensive view of community capacity can be gained, which can
then be used to formulate appropriate policy structures.

The contextual influences that have been determined as most important in developing
communities are: a) location; b) space and security; c) residential stability; d) distribution of
power and resources/structure of opportunity; e) history and culture; f) economics; g) maturity of
civil society; h) political stability, accountability, and participation; and i) institutional
development (Wachowski, 2007, see also Chaskin et al., 2001). Each one of these contextual
influences will now be discussed in detail.

Location - In remote places, jump starting the community capacity cycle can be a challenge.
Places that are far away from major transportation and industrial hubs, surrounded by especially
difficult terrain, or are prone to natural disasters can have difficulty in opening and developing
their markets, maintaining a stable resident population, and obtaining external resources
(Wachowski, 2007). Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the affect that a community’s physical
location has on its community capacity potential.

Space and Security - The influence of space and security describes the dynamics of land use
in the community, as well as the relative security that people in the community feel. The
dynamics of land use change include the conversion of agricultural land to commercial or
residential areas and any other change in the use of land resulting from developmental or
environmental factors. Feelings of security can include the general safety and freedom from
crime or oppression that people feel, as well as their ability to consistently live their lives as they
wish. These factors tend to engage the thoughts of community residents, as well as represent
some of the most basics needs and conditions for human comfort, and therefore impact upon the
willingness and ability of community members to participate in community activities (Chaskin et
al., 2001, p. 24).

Residential Stability - Residential stability incorporates the concepts of migration to and from
the community, as well as the density of acquaintance. Migration and movements of people to,
from, and within a community directly affect the density of acquaintance of a community. The
density of acquaintance is a reflection of the depth and quality of the relationships and trust
among members in a community. Heavy inflows and outflows of people in a community affect
the levels of trust and quality of relationships that people can engage in and therefore the levels
of cooperation that can be achieved in a community. This is because the longer that people have
the opportunity to get to know one another the higher the likelihood that they will trust one
another, which in turns affects levels of cooperation and collaboration (Chaskin et al., 2001, p.
24).

Distribution of Power and Resources/Structure of Opportunity. - The distribution of power
and resources and the structure of opportunity within a community represent the social dynamics
of the community in relation to resources and social mobility. These two conditional influences
have been combined because they are similarly based in the empowerment of various groups of
people within the community. Skewed distribution of power and resources can create or reflect
rifts within a community and can affect the way that a community functions. They operate at
many levels within the community and can be influenced by age, ethnicity, income, (Chaskin et
al., 2001, p. 24) relationships or various other factors (see also Lin, 2000, p. 787). Since power is
associated with obtaining resources and so is community capacity, it is worth noting these
separations and distributions within a community to facilitate community capacity development,
rather than further perpetuate unequal power relations. The structure of opportunity contextual
influence reflects the ability which members of the community have to gain and pursue

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opportunities (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 24). This can encompass either socio-political constraints
or economic and class constraints, as well as necessary relationships (such as patronage) that
affect the way in which members of the community have access to opportunities.

History and Culture - History and culture, which includes ethnic, religious, and class
divisions, is also relevant for community capacity. History can include local group relations,
colonial relations and remnants, the historical residence of a community including land
distribution, and the existence of predominant families, as well as significant events. These
historical factors can become potential flashpoints during times of upheaval and discomfort
within the community. Culture can be defined as the meanings, values, and ways of life of a
certain group of people that makes them distinct from another group of people (Hofstede, 1980;
Schech & Haggis, 2000). Historical and cultural factors need to be taken into consideration to
better understand the social dynamics of the community (Putnam, 1993, p. 182), as well as to
note and avoid potential issues during community capacity building efforts. This contextual
influence is particularly relevant for those involved with external interventions, as the history and
culture of an area are tacit knowledge for internal stakeholders.

Economics - The basic economic circumstance of a community is a fairly straight forward
contextual influence and becomes a particularly important factor when dealing with developing
communities. If a community has persistent economic problems, livelihood issues, and poverty
it cannot be expected that it will have much in the way of community capacity. The economic
situation and the struggle to improve it may adversely affect community capacity and capacity
building efforts because it dichotomizes communities, separating the classes (Figueira-
McDonough, 2001, p. 29). This issue becomes of unique importance when considering
community capacity in a developing country since such nations continually struggle with poverty
are vulnerable to economic fluctuations.

Maturity of Civil Society - The maturity of civil society reflects the ability of the people
within a community to come together and accomplish actions outside the public and commercial
realms. A mature civil society is one that allows people to gather freely without prejudice of
intention or makeup of membership, as well as having instances of organizations with
sophisticated organization, stable membership, observable actions, and viable networks
(Hadiwinata, 2003). NGOs serve an important role in communities as they seek to combine
development and empowerment to increase the bargaining power that local people have in
relation to the state and the market. Furthermore, the success of the NGO is highly dependent on
the local political situation in combination with the type of approach that the NGO takes, as well
as having a focus on community development through the promotion of people-centered
development (Hadiwinata, 2003, p. 24). This reflection on NGOs as a major component of civil
society helps to demonstrate the connection that civil society has to Agents that make a mature
civil society a relevant consideration for community capacity. Civil society is an important
aspect of civic life and facilitates the A-A-A cycle by encompassing and enabling agents to adopt
Actions and engage in activities. Since many developing communities either have a fledgling
civil society or have been unable to fully develop the potential of their civil society due to
adverse political circumstances, the maturity of a civil society is an important consideration to
help determine the richness of its community capacity (Wachowski, 2007).

Political Stability, Accountability, and Participation - Political stability, accountability, and
participation help to articulate the level of commitment that the local administration has to a
community, as well as the interest that the community has in the political sphere. The political
process and the interaction that a community has with its local and superior administrative units

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are also significant for determining community capacity. Communities that demonstrate a lack of
understanding of their polity miss opportunities to improve their lives, as well as face further
levels of disenfranchisement and decreased capacity (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 166). For this
reason, it is necessary to ascertain a community’s understanding of political processes, the role of
community leaders, and the degree individual rights are respected. Additionally, in order to
assess the service to the community of the administration, institutional responses to citizens,
administrative accountability, leadership capability, and administrative organization must be
outlined and analyzed.

Institutional Development - Institutional development describes the prevalence and
sophistication of organizations and the activities of educational bodies, media groups, and public
service delivery providers. These institutes within a community comprise yet another layer of the
A-A-A cycle of community capacity in that the more developed the institutes in a community are
the more avenues a community has to produce community actions (Wachowski, 2007).

This contextual influence also plays a role in the sense of community that a community can
have. As the institutions in a community, including government and civil society organizations,
become more developed, they can contribute to shared goals and identities of the community,
key aspects of a sense of community.

Table 18 provides some criteria for determining the kinds and effects of the contextual
influences on the A-A-A cycle of community capacity.

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Table - Indicators for the contextual influences

Contextual Criteria
Influence
Location Ease of access to transportation hubs
Ease of access to production centers
Ease of access to external markets
Difficulty of terrain
Propensity of natural disasters
Hard infrastructure
Space and Changes in land use
Security Prevalence of crime
Notion of security
Residential Rate of migration to/from community
Stability Comfort community members feel with one another
Trust betwixt community members
Distribution of Similarity/dissimilarity of economic circumstances among community members
Power and Relative access to resources
Resources Blatant imbalances of power
History and Ethnic, religious, or class divisions
Culture Historical group relationships
Colonial effects
Historical land divisions
Powerful families
Relations with external entities (other communities or organizations)
Sentiments towards sites, events, or ideas
Significant historical events
Local traditions and values
Structure of Constraints on opportunities
Opportunity Necessary relationships for local success
Disenfranchised groups
Economics Relative level of income
Progression of economic growth
Instances of poverty
Vulnerable facets of local economy
Maturity of Structure of organizations
Civil Society Stability of group membership
Effectiveness of organizations (ability to achieve outcomes)
Nature of civil society organizations (issue-oriented, advocacy and empowerment
oriented, long-term)

Political Administrative stability
Stability, Administrative accountability and organization
Accountability, Administration’s response to citizens
and Officials’ leadership capability
Participation Prevalence of community participation in political matters
Effort of polity to enact participatory governance
Community’s understanding of legal rights and local political situation

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Institutional
Development



Amount and function of independent institutions
Structural and practical development of government and civil society organizations
Norms conducive to community progression displayed by institutional leadership

Source: Author, based on Chaskin et al., 2001; Wachowski, 2007

The indicators in this table summarize the discussion above and provide some specific ways
to identify each contextual influence in an assessment. This table reflects all the authors cited in
the discussion on contextual influences. Indicators are the practical reflection of those concepts
as interpreted by the author. These contextual influences can have a significant affect on
community capacity, so each Influence should be given special consideration and discussed as
in-depth as possible. As noted previously, this indicator table should merely be used a guide for
discussing the contextual influences on a community. Furthermore, any other significant
influence on a community’s capacity that is not outlined in the table should also be included in a
community capacity assessment.

3. Community-driven economics

In response to the issues presented in Chapter Two and the elaboration of community and
community capacity presented in this chapter, a new concept for economics and development
focusing on the community is offered. Within communities there is a call for a focus on local
assets, resources, and production while maintaining local and international links for marketing
and information exchange. There is also a need to redefine development away from merely
economic growth because it does not effectively address the issues associated with poverty
(Cling, 2002, p. 36). Identifying the community as the center of economics makes poverty
alleviation, policy making, and development more successful and meaningful (Sastry, &
Srinivasan, 2007, p. 387).

The modes through which community-driven economics can progress are: 1) linking
people to obtain resources; 2) linking institutions with projects and business for human resource
development; and 3) linking policy and business investment. Community-driven economics and
small business development are the best ways to ensure that long-term economic development
and stability proceeds and achieves widespread effectiveness, elevating many out of poverty and
ensuring equitable access to a sustainable livelihood.

As stated earlier in the section on community, globalization has actually elevated the
community as an important player in economics and policy development. Community-driven
economics does not suggest the abandonment of global economics, but rather an incorporation of
the interests of the community into global economic considerations. Local markets need external
links, even global links to remain stable (Cox & Mair, 1998, p. 308). This means that
communities must assert themselves as rightful players in the international market.
Globalization is neither all good nor all bad (Koggel, 2008, p. 118), and all players should have a
say.

Households should be the target for economic development because families bear the burden
of poverty and make critical decisions in regards to consumption, health, and education, all of
which are critical areas affected by poverty. Communities are made up of households and the
various private, public, and non-governmental organizations that affect the daily lives of people
(MacIver, 1970; McMillan & George, 1986; Gusfield, 1975); therefore the community becomes

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