Gender, culture and business assistance in Western Samoa : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University
This thesis examines the question: How far did the planning and implementation of the Small Business Enterprise Centre of Western Samoa take into account the gender and culture perspectives of development, and to what degree are those perspectives reflected in its outcomes? It does so by reviewing the gender and culture perspectives of development, and concluding that each can be divided into two approaches. The gender perspective comprises the market approach, which aims to use women's effort to achieve economic growth, and the empowerment approach, which aims to increase the ability of women to alter the gender balance of women and men, in favour of women. The culture perspective comprises both the utilitarian approach, which advocates adapting development projects to local culture to make them more likely to succeed, and the moral approach, the purpose of which is to reduce the harmful effects of development on indigenous culture. The thesis identifies indicators of the different approaches in a development project, and then uses a four-stage analytical model to discover whether they were present in the Small Business Enterprise Centre of Western Samoa. The thesis concludes that the planning and implementation of the Small Business Enterprise Centre showed a limited application of the market and utilitarian approaches, but did not show any application of the empowerment or moral approaches, though the outcomes of the SBEC included some empowerment of women, and few harmful effects on Samoan culture. The thesis shows the primacy of neo-liberal thinking in New Zealand's overseas small-business development practice during the period 1990-1995, despite its stated concern for women and, to a lesser extent, for culture. The thesis reached three conclusions which concern wider issues: • While the nature of Western Samoan culture, and gender relations, is changing, there is no fundamental inconsistency between them and small business development. • Neo-liberalism can adopt perspectives of development which appear to spring from a concern for social welfare, and turn them to its own ends. • The combination of indicators of different perspectives and the four-stage analytical model used in the thesis can be used, very effectively, for detailed assessment of the planning, implementation and outcomes of a development project.