Development through bricoleurs: Portraying local personnel’s role in implementation of water resources development in Rural Nepal

Juho Haapala
Water and Development Research Group, Aalto University, Aalto, Finland; juho.haapala@aalto.fi

Pamela White
Development Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland; and Development Consulting, FCG International ltd.; pamela.white@fcg.fi

ABSTRACT: This article considers the little studied role of local implementation staff and their institutional operational environment at the grassroots of a rural development intervention in Nepal. The study describes the challenges the implementing staff encounters in relation to the steering policies, project modalities, local communities, partners in government administration, and their personal motivations. It observes the ways in which the implementing individuals must collaborate with their partners and facilitate the planned changes in local institutions and individual behaviours. The findings indicate that much of the actual implementation process at the grassroots is determined by informal, improvised, and fuzzy institutional surroundings, quite different to designed or regulated governance environs. The ability to operate in these less-regulated environs determines many of the implementation outcomes at the grassroots. Researchers, managers and decision-makers would benefit from incorporating institutional bricolage to the analyses of development interventions.

KEYWORDS: Institutional bricolage, implementation, adaptive management, rural development, Nepal