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A Learning Journey towards Sustaining a Rural Community-based Enterprise in India Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationA Learning Journey towards Sustaininga Rural Community-based Enterprise in IndiaA large number of developmental efforts initiated by international agencies, government, and local non-governmental organizations face an untimely death on the withdrawal of the intervening agency. Given the complexity of social problems today, emergent solutions interact with emergent phenomena. Therefore, simply solving the immediate problem is not enough; there is a need to build capacity to continuously self-generate solutions to social emergent change. The dynamic process of learning can significantly contribute to building such capacity. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to understand the learning process of a community that successfully sustained development efforts at the community level. The methodology used was a qualitative case study and a single, representative case of a community-based enterprise (CBE) in rural Rajasthan, India was purposefully selected. 13 leaders and key members of the CBE were interviewed. One board of directors’ meeting, two self help group (SHG) leaders’ trainings, and two village-level SHG meetings were attended to observe the community in practice. A review of the registers documenting executive meetings over the period of 14 years was also conducted. As data was collected in the local language, appropriate procedures for recording, transcription, and translation were followed. Content analysis and constant comparison methods were used to analyze the data. The findings provided an understanding of the context of the community (political, environmental, economic, social); phases of CBE evolution (initiation, transition, birth, growth, future sustainability); nature of learning (experiential, transformational, and situated); process of learning (leadership, selection of central activity, federation, CBE formation, expansion, decentralization, diversification); and factors that facilitate or inhibit learning for sustaining the CBE (trust, awareness/knowledge, resources).

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