Development Projects Observed

Development Projects Observed

ALBERT O. HIRSCHMAN
FOREWORD BY CASS R. SUNSTEIN
AFTERWORD BY MICHELE ALACEVICH
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt7zsw04
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  • Book Info
    Development Projects Observed
    Book Description:

    Originally published in 1967, the modest and plainly descriptive title ofDevelopment Projects Observedis deceptive. Today, it is recognized as the ultimate volume of Hirschman's groundbreaking trilogy on development, and as the bridge to the broader social science themes of his subsequent writings. Though among his lesser-known works, this unassuming tome is one of his most influential.

    It is in this book that Hirschman first shared his now famous "Principle of the Hiding Hand." In an April 2013New Yorkerissue, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an appreciation of the principle, described by Cass Sunstein in the book's new foreword as "a bit of a trick up history's sleeve." It can be summed up as a phenomenon in which people's inability to foresee obstacles leads to actions that succeed because people have far more problem-solving ability that they anticipate or appreciate.

    And it is inDevelopment Projects Observedthat Hirschman laid the foundation for the core of his most important work,Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, and later led to the concept of an "exit strategy."

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2643-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD: ALBERT HIRSCHMANʹS HIDING HAND
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Cass R. Sunstein

    Albert Hirschman loved surprises, ironies, and paradoxes. He was delighted by human foibles and even more, he celebrated human creativity. He distrusted large claims and law-like generalizations. He enjoyed serendipity. He insisted that human history provides “stories, intricate and often nonrepeatable,” which “look more like tricks history has up its sleeve than like social-scientific regularities, not to speak of laws.” A refugee from Berlin during the rise of Nazism, he was keenly interested in “the many might-have-beens of history,” including “felicitous and surprising escapes from disaster.”

    The largest idea in this remarkable book involves the Hiding Hand, which turns out...

  4. AUTHORʹS PREFACE: A HIDDEN AMBITION
    (pp. xv-xx)
    ALBERT O. HIRSCHMAN
  5. AUTHORʹS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
    ALBERT O. HIRSCHMAN
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-7)

    The development project is a special kind of investment. The term connotes purposefulness, some minimum size, a specific location, the introduction of something qualitatively new, and the expectation that a sequence of further development moves will be set in motion. If they are in the public sector, development projects may additionally be defined as those units or aggregates of public investment that, however small, still evoke direct involvement by high, usually the highest, political authorities. Development projects, then, are privileged particles of the development process, and the feeling that their behavior warrants watching at close range led to the present...

  7. CHAPTER ONE THE PRINCIPLE OF THE HIDING HAND
    (pp. 8-31)

    The karnaphuli pulp and paper mill is one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises to have been set up in Pakistan after Partition and Independence. Planned by the official Industrial Development Corporation to utilize the vast resources of the bamboo forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts along the upper reaches of the Karnaphuli River in East Pakistan, the mill started to operate in 1953. It had perhaps more than its share of technical and managerial teething troubles, but considerable progress had been achieved by 1959 when its management passed into private hands. Soon thereafter, a major upset endangered the very...

  8. CHAPTER TWO UNCERTAINTIES
    (pp. 32-78)

    The hiding hand does its work essentially through ignorance of ignorance, of uncertainties, and of difficulties. Therefore, if we wish to avoid immoderate use of it in making project decisions, our first task is to become aware in some detail of the uncertainties that affect projects and of the resulting difficulties they may have to encounter and overcome.

    The incidence of the unknown, the uncertain, and the hazardous differs vastly from one kind of project to another. The term “project” conjures up the notion of a set of blueprints, prepared by consulting engineers, which, upon being handed to a contractor,...

  9. CHAPTER THREE LATITUDES AND DISCIPLINES
    (pp. 79-117)

    The preceding chapter may have given the impression that the behavior of projects is primarily a matter of meeting and coming to grips with a series of problems that arise in the process of setting up an organization, constructing capital facilities, producing outputs, and finding a market for them. In this view, a project’s trajectory would be largely determined by forces impinging upon it from the outside, with the project planners and operators reacting more or less successfully to events beyond their control and frequently unforeseen by them. We have attempted to show which characteristics make projects specially vulnerable or...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR PROJECT DESIGN: TRAIT-TAKING AND TRAIT-MAKING
    (pp. 118-147)

    The analysis of project behavior has so far proceeded as fairly pure science, even though we have occasionally come upon practical hints in the course of our observations on uncertainty and latitude. We are now turning to a more direct attack on what must clearly be an important part of the present study, namely considerations on the choice, design, and appraisal of projects.

    The general outcome of our discussion on uncertainty and latitude for these matters is not free from ambiguity. For example, it might seem wise for a country lacking in technical sophistication to shun projects surrounded by a...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE PROJECT APPRAISAL: THE CENTRALITY OF SIDE-EFFECTS
    (pp. 148-174)

    Our discussion of trait-making and trait-taking implies a new view of a subject usually dealt with under the heading of indirect benefits or side-effects, external economies or benefits, spillovers, linkages, repercussions, and similar terms. It is generally recognized that besides the output of goods and services which is their primary raison d’être, projects have a variety of more subtle, yet perhaps highly important and powerful effects, from the acquisition of new skills to greater readiness, on the part of the consumers of the project’s outputs, to produce for the market; from the stimulation of entrepreneurship to the learning of cooperation...

  12. AFTERWORD: ALBERT HIRSCHMAN OBSERVED
    (pp. 175-190)
    Michele Alacevich

    Albert Hirschman consideredDevelopment Projects Observeda natural sequel to his earlier work. As Hirschman put it to an old acquaintance at the World Bank, his previous books identified the inner and often hidden mechanisms of development sequences: “Having worked out a few basic hypotheses …, I could perhaps test them (and hit on some new ones) by looking at Bank-financed projects that have had enough time to give rise to such sequences.”¹ But as much as it appeared as the logical evolution of Hirschman’s intellectual trajectory, this new research was also the offshoot of an important crisis in development...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 191-202)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-204)