IRIS PAULUS, UWE JENS NAGEL
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Agricultural Extension and Communication Sciences, Germany
Service providers are considered to be important actors in rural development as they are supposed to facilitate the access to goods, services and markets for the rural population. However, the performance of many public services is limited and very often, alternatives to public services do not exist. Rural development projects often aim at establishing or supporting rural service providers who are expected to carry on services after the project's phasing out. However, impact evaluations of these organisations' performance reveal a declining performance after the running out of projects' financing.
Since explanations for this development might be discovered during a project's term, the objective of the study was to identify supporting and impeding factors for the design and the performance of a rural service provider in the Highlands of Madagascar. The organisation's performance has been analysed on the basis of the following elements: demand orientation, flexibility and external relationships, organisational structure, staff potential and financial resources. Furthermore, in a three-years-process, the project's influence on designing and change of the service provider has been examined.
The results illustrate the influence of organisational structures on the service provider's strengths in demand orientation and the increase in flexible reactions to the population needs. Nevertheless, a low staff potential and lacking external relationships obstruct increase in performance and render the service provider dependent on actual and future external support.
Moreover the study revealed that founding and supporting the service provider has been tackled too late by the project and a lacking consolidation of the supported organisation in the institutional context. The different cultural rationalities of European and Malagasy partners as well as the staff's potential to independently manage the organisation were not adequately taken into account.
Consequently, finding adequate solutions for sustainable institutional arrangements is a complex and long-term process. Therefore, definite options for handing over responsibility must be developed in a participatory manner and a sound and sustainable financing concept must be developed with all stakeholders.
Keywords: Institutional transformation, NGO, service provider