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The never-ending project: Exploring the assembling of projects in Swedish development aid
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies (from 2013).
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The introduction of practices related to marketization and new public management (NPM) has had profound effects in various policy areas during recent decades (Hood, 1991). While the repertoire of practices and reforms related to this transformation is broad, this paper takes its point of departure in the particular practice of projectification as it has been deployed as a way of organizing different policy areas, often as a way of making these more effective according to the central tenets of NPM. Development aid is an area which has been characterized by the use of projects as a way of organizing different forms of development work, ranging from improving health services to making public administration more effective and democratic. Projectification implies a range of other specific practices for organizations that use projects as their primary work form, such as partaking in competitive project funding arrangements and adapting to requirements on using particular planning models and reporting schemes.

In this paper, which is an ongoing PhD thesis, I explore how different actors deploy various market and management practices to make projects functional. By mobilizing the concept of assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Higgins & Larner, 2017; Clarke et al. 2015; Li, 2007), I will explore how projects are outcomes of the assembling and pulling together of various heterogeneous elements, such as artefacts, human desires and practices. By gathering data among state funders, civil society organizations and consultants, I study how these actors assemble different elements to make projects provisional wholes. Firstly, I investigate how the project logic plays out between state funders and civil society organizations as the latter try to fulfill requirements stipulated in application and reporting instructions and guidelines. These processes are characterized by messy practices of translation and adaptations to technical guidelines that encourage the designers of projects to adhere to the simplification of reality through, for example, the formulation of goals, indicators and quantifiable outcomes in standardized templates. Secondly, I explore how the formulation and implementation of projects are dependent on knowledge and expertise that are part of the assembling of projects. Therefore, I look into how consultant expertise, such as knowledge in auditing, different methodologies and facilitation of learning, is used to make projects function. This consultant expertise is dependent on the construction of markets in order to subject the dissemination of knowledge to a buy-and-sell logic.

In a second part, I explore the effects of the assembling of projects in development aid by discussing how projectification implies a process of “rendering technical” (Li, 2007) which makes development work depoliticized in various ways. In addition, projectification implies a reproduction of colonial notions of logic, rationality and objectivity, thus legitimating the “coloniality of power” (Quijano, 2000).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-74670OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-74670DiVA, id: diva2:1349145
Conference
ECPR General Conference, Wroclaw, 4-7 September, 2019
Available from: 2019-09-06 Created: 2019-09-06 Last updated: 2019-10-09Bibliographically approved

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Scott, David

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  • apa
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