Major efforts have been made by development organisations to make their systems of project and programme management more participatory, in order to be accountable to local participants (or beneficiaries), while also creating opportunities for them to shape their own processes. These measures may look participatory, but have in effect become new (and often costly) forms of management and control, which do not result in great benefits for project participants. The authors argue that the dominance of three components- projects, professionals, and organisations-has been taken for granted; and that they involve practices and processes which are primarily instruments of control, rather than of participation. Attempts to generate participation will thus require a fundamental change in the way in which these components operate. In the meantime, the authors call for attention to be paid to the ways in which the current tools of participatory development, including PRA, can be used to promote either participation or control, depending on how they are used.
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