Like many other South Pacific countries the Cook Islands underwent a period of enforced restructuring in the mid-1990s. Yet, unlike many other South Pacific countries, the Cook Islands achieved a considerable degree of success. Field research shows that the success of the reform program in the Cook Islands depended not so much on the actual reform program itself as it did on the way in
which reform process unfolded. Given the recent movement by the World Bank towards more participatory approaches to country-level development planning and reform, it seems an opportune time to explore how participatory approaches can actually lead to successful reform outcomes at the country-level. The key to the success of the economic reform program in the Cook Islands can be traced back to three inter-related factors: participation, consensus and cooperation. Combined, all three factors help create a virtuous circle which acted to positively reinforce the ongoing planning and implementation of a reform program. The paper ends by arguing that the key to the success of the Cook Islands reform program was its ongoing participatory nature in both the planning and implementation stage. The World Bank and other multi-lateral institutions would do well to take this lesson onboard.
Barcham, M. (2007). Participation in practice: Participation, consensus and cooperation in the achievement of economic reform in the Cooks Islands. (CIGAD Working Paper Series 1/2007). Palmerston North, N.Z.: Massey University. Centre for Indigenous Governance and Development.