Under What Circumstances Does Capacity Building Work?

  • Lavagnon IkaEmail author
  • Jennifer Donnelly
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)


Many of the capacity building projects initiated in developing countries have not met the goals expected. This situation has resulted in disappointments with various socioeconomic impacts in these countries. The goal of this chapter is to explore how to make capacity building work in developing countries. For this purpose, we look into four capacity building projects in Ghana, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, conduct a case study and a qualitative analysis of 20 interviews with project practitioners, and draw out their success conditions or the right circumstances under which they work. We find out that there are structural, institutional, and managerial conditions, some of which are initial (i.e., they occur in advance of the projects) and others are emergent (i.e., they occur in the wake of the projects). We further identify four meta-conditions for capacity building projects to succeed: multi-stakeholder commitment, collaboration, alignment, and adaptation. Then we show that to obtain and maintain these meta-conditions, proper attention should be given to attainability of objectives and demonstrating value, ability of stakeholders and inclusiveness, planning/design and mutual interest, and monitoring and support. Finally, we boldly submit that capacity building projects thrive when there are high levels of multi-stakeholder commitment, collaboration, alignment, and adaptation.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telfer School of ManagementUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.German Red CrossPort-au-PrinceHaiti

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