Date of Award
Master of Science
David W. Brown
Charles L. Cleland, Nelson Robinson
A flow of rapid, accurate, and relevant informational feedback from village level agricultural projects to regional or area level program administrators needs to be maintained if such programs are to be as effective as possible. Program administrators require timely and reliable information in order to (1) expedite and coordinate the execution of projects, (2) adapt projects to local conditions and changing circumstances, and (3) evaluate project performance. On the basis of the author's observations of regional agricultural programs in Venezuela and readings in the literature of agricultural development that deal with similar situations in several other developing countries, it appears as though feedback frequently fails to meet program administrators' informational needs. Further review of the literature in agricultural and development administration revealed that very little work has been done on analyzing feedback problems at the regional program level. In addition, most of the literature related to feedback focuses upon "Western" settings and does not adequately reflect the institutional, communicative, and moti-vational problems often encountered in less developed countries. The primary objective of this study, then, was to develop a conceptual framework for analyzing the major issues and dimensions inherent in the feedback process. Such a framework can serve as a point of departure for more in-depth analysis by program administrators or analysts who are concerned with improving feedback in specific program contexts. Ideas and constructs from several theoretical and applied fields such as development administration, communications, organizational theory, and economics were utilized and adapted to pro-vide focal points for examining the important variables and factors involved in the feedback process. It was concluded that the concerned administrator or analyst could begin to organize his own thinking about how to diagnose feedback problems by applying an analytical framework developed around the following three basic dimensions: 1. A structural/procedural dimension involving such factors as feedback channels, media, and timing and institutional and hierarchical rigidities. 2. A behavioral/cultural dimension encompassing such factors as bureaucratic and target group communication and behavioral patterns. 3. An allocative/decision-making dimension involving resource constraints and the determination of feasible alternatives. While the analytical framework was usef-ully applied to feedback problems observed by the author in Venezuela, it still represents a preliminary effort to dissect feedback problems within the context of regional agricultural programs in less developed countries. Much more needs to be learned about the nature of the administrative environment and decision-making processes of specific non-Western settings before a more detailed problem-specific approach can be suggested.
Thurston, Robert Venable, "Information feedback in agricultural development programs. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1972.