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Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Management in Rural Development

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At least until 2015 the majority of the world’s poor are expected to live in rural areas. Rural development efforts are, therefore, critical to global efforts to reduce poverty. However, rural areas of low income countries are challenging areas in which to work as well as challenging areas in which to live. This module is about the management of rural development activities and of the organisations that are involved in implementing these activities, be they public or private organisations or NGOs. It explores how the rural development environment affects the business of managing organisations and looks at how relevant mainstream management theories are to the management of organisations in this context. It considers measures to improve organisational performance, with a particular focus on recent efforts to reform state organisations working in rural development and also to reform the operations of international aid agencies working with these organisations.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of the module students will be able:

  • to discuss the distinctive nature of rural development tasks and the environment in which they take place, and assess their implications for the work of rural development managers
  • to explain why the rural poor are often marginalized and how this problem can be overcome
  • to describe how the traditional approach to rural development projects has changed and why many donors now prefer to support programmes rather than projects
  • to outline the main organisation and management theories and critically appraise their relevance to management in rural development
  • to describe and explain alternative approaches and methods in managing human resources, managing information, and managing finances
  • to critically evaluate the role of public sector organisations in rural development and suggest how they and the delivery of aid can be reformed so as to improve public sector performance

Scope and syllabus

The first three units provide an introduction to issues that you will encounter again throughout the course. Unit 1 looks briefly at some basic concepts relating to management and rural development. It considers the way in which the tasks of rural development management are distinctive, and analyses the rural environment in which development takes place. Unit 2 reviews different approaches to tackling the problems of rural development and poverty reduction that have been pursued in recent decades and explores why rural development projects have often failed to meet their objectives. Unit 3 looks at why it is often so difficult to reach the rural poor and looks at ways of giving the poor greater voice.

The next four units form a distinctive group in that they relate specifically to the management of organisations, whether these be in the public or private sector. Unit 4 introduces management and organisation theory and considers its relevance for managers in rural development. The following units explores a number of skill areas which all managers will be involved in to some extent, including managing human resources (Unit 5), managing finances (Unit 6) and managing information (Unit 7).

The final three units are primarily concerned with the public sector. Unit 8 explores theoretical issues concerning the role of the state. Unit 9 looks at current approaches to reforming the state, whilst Unit 10 looks at the relationship between the state and aid and how the latter can strengthen the former.

Module sample

P531 module uses a core text which is specially written and will take you through your self-directed study. Exercises, assignments and other activities, such as self-assessment questions, film clips and animations are included to help you with learning. Most module study guides are now provided in electronic format on a USB flash memory stick, but can also be downloaded from the online learning environment. Click the linked image below to view a sample of our e-study guide: