Relationality as a Lens for Policy Analysis: Preserving Harmony in a Triangular Cooperation Project to Strengthen Gender Mainstreaming in Fiji

Aditya Alta*, Farhad Mukhtarov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Policy has been mostly approached as a rational project of setting goals and establishing rules and roles to achieve them. Alternative approaches to policy have been referred to as post-positivist, critical-reflexive and relational. They all emphasize emergent, co-evolutionary and relational aspects of policy work that cannot be reduced to rational choice and reasoning-based models alone. A shared element of such frameworks is the focus on relationships, which are seen not just in a narrow sense of the “logic of appropriateness,” but as a force that shapes actors’ identities, interests and power. Following relational analytical approaches, we analyze a triangular development cooperation project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Indonesia in order to strengthen gender mainstreaming (SGM) of Fijian government. Through attention to relationality as it shapes actors’ identities and narratives, we demonstrate how a different form of learning employed by each actor facilitated harmony in the project. A key mediating factor in the smooth project co-evolution that we observed, was the ambiguous project design and vaguely articulated goals, supported by fragmented project setup and reporting. Such ambiguity allowed formulation of multiple versions of the project’s outcomes for multiple audiences. However, it also resulted in little impact on the ground in Fiji. Our findings support persistent criticism of development aid projects in small island states for rarely addressing problems of target populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283-1304
Number of pages22
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This article is based on the first author’s MA thesis at the International Institute of Social Studies, supervised by the second author. The study was financially supported by the Dutch government through the StuNed scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

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