Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between project-based organizing and the initiatives labelled as “development” by critically engaging with some unchallenged assumptions inherent in the notion of both projects as a means through which social change can be achieved and the wider possibility of delivering social good as an objective of development. Design/methodology/approach– From a phenomenologically informed critical participatory perspective the authors focus on contradictions within the practices of community development (CD) by attending to the interplay between the dominant project form of organizing that frames those practices and the rhetoric of “development”. Findings– Drawing on two CD examples, the authors illustrate and discuss the contradictions and damaging consequences of the developmentalism-projectification double-act. The position is that social good is local and contextual and draws expediently and contingently on the means through which it can be achieved by the collective action of those who co-define and co-create the social good. Social implications– The authors propose that there is a need to open the dialogue with development practitioners, funders, project managers, project workers, and the recipients and stimulate multiple participation. Originality/value– The authors believe the critical participatory approach that the authors have taken to CD project management could be both novel and useful as it refocuses attention to non-performative aspects of CD, arguing for de-naturalization of project organizing logic and encouraging emancipation from dominant epistemic inequalities. With an uncompromising focus on embedded practices, the authors hope to spur further debate on the important issue of CD and the possibilities of creating “social good”.
International Journal of Managing Projects in Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 6, 2016