Bringing Path Dependencies into Evaluations of Smallholder Cooperative Development Programs

David J. O'Brien*, John Elliot Meador

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter outlines the importance of evaluating a smallholder cooperative project's outcomes within the historical path of its nation's political and economic institutions. This permits realistic expectations for project planners and evaluators and comparisons of project results in different countries. Two smallholder development projects in two East African countries, Kenya and Rwanda, are used to illustrate how differences in the historical path of colonial rule and post-colonial leadership present different opportunities and challenges for smallholder cooperatives. These include what kinds of incentives will attract cooperative members, the competition between cooperatives and other firms, types of institutional structures that facilitate cooperative development and regional market constraints that affect project outcomes. British colonial rule and post-colonial political and economic developments have provided more potential economic gains for Kenyan cooperatives, but also more risks. Belgian colonial rule and the postgenocide Rwandan government have led to a "guided" institutional approach to cooperative development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOpportunities and Challenges of Smallholders and Smallholding
EditorsDonat Horvath
PublisherNova Science Publishers Inc.
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9781536192032
ISBN (Print)9781536191356
Publication statusPrint publication - 21 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.


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