Exploring Strategic Factors of Community Development
have been several factors that can influence community development.
These factors can have as much of an impact on the community development
process as they do on the community itself. They may even be contributing to
the issues being addressed, or be a central part of the problem. In many cases,
the influence these factors have can greatly shift a community's ability to
succeed or fail in the community development process.
This article will further
explore the strategic factors of community development and what they can do. They
are broken into four categories: human elements, social factors, environment
and geography, and resources. Each factor discussed in the article is only a
factor that may possibly be present in a community that can contribute towards
community development. Depending on the circumstances present in a community,
some may have more of an influence than others and some may not even be
The human elements of a community are by far one of the more important
aspects of community development. Communities are based upon the people that
make up their memberships; without them, communities wouldn't exist. It's no
wonder then that factors related to the people can be so influential on
community development. The diversity in human populations largely contributes
to this, and many of these factors are rooted in the human nature of community
members. Some human factors include:
is something that is repeatedly brought up in regards to community development
because it really does play a significant role in the process. The human
element of community means that participation is practically mandatory on some
level in community development. However, this does not mean that participation
should be forced upon the community and its members; such paternalistic actions
can backfire and are damaging to the process's results.1 Quite
possibly, forced participation can lead to resentment and sabotage regarding
the efforts being made.
put it plainly, the success of a community development plan is going to hinge
on how much people care about their community. When there is considerable
interest, community members are going to willing put the work in for
improvements. Little to no interest means it's unlikely that anything will get
accomplished any time soon.
the leadership that guides the community through things. The actions of a
community's leader and their abilities are going to determine the outcome of
the community development process. Poor or ineffective leadership, especially
when there's a lack of communication, can be especially devastating and can
destroy trust and credibility with community members.2 Strong,
positive leadership, on the other hand, can bring the community together and
set them on the path towards success in their efforts to improve themselves.
because community members willing participate and have a genuine interest in
community development doesn't mean that their attitude will match. People do
things that they don't necessarily like all the time, usually out of necessity,
duty, morality, or other influence. Attitudes can impact the effectiveness of
the efforts made in community development, and can be especially influential
when there are conflicting attitudes involved.
are, well, human. They're not perfect beings and they're going to make mistakes
at some point. Even the most cautious person is eventually going to make an
error. It shouldn't be something that is viewed as surprising in any situation,
even community development. To some degree, human error should be expected and
treated with the same regard as any other factor that may influence a
situation. If it happens, it happens-and there's no reason that it should be
treated as an absolute guarantee of failure either.
Social factors present in
the community are often going to act as a negative influence rather than a
positive one. This is because the sociocultural elements tend to be deeply
ingrained in society, and it can be difficult to take action that may deviate
from those values. It's not just an issue for community development either;
economically, social factors can affect what business actions and decisions are
acceptable in the public eye.3 Social factors can have one of the
strongest impacts on community development because it can impact other factors
on multiple levels.
Discrimination and Prejudice-Beliefs, misconceptions, and stereotypes are ingrained
into society and they can dictate people's actions without much effort. This
leads to prejudice towards others and instances of discrimination, which can
both generate problems and block solutions.4 In a community setting,
discrimination can be widespread if the rationale behind it is shared amongst
the majority of the members. Because discriminating practices tend to be
habitual in these communities, it can be quite a powerful obstacle to community
society has a set of expectations placed upon those who are active in it. They
can dictate what is acceptable regarding actions, appearance, beliefs, and
behavior in the public sphere. This extends into communities, which are
essentially samples of society and may have additional expectations of their
own. Actions taken in the community development process often need to meet the
social and community expectations in order to have any support or success.
social elements are a part of the culture(s) present in the community. They
bring their own belief systems, moral codes, expectations, and attitudes into
the mix with varying degrees of effect. Elements of culture in a community can
dictate how efforts of the community development process progresses, simply
through the ways in which those efforts translate via the cultural norms.
is one of the tenants of society and community, with shared religious beliefs
being one of the interests that communities have developed around for
centuries. It can be a powerful catalyst for change and an equally powerful
opponent, depending on the interaction between religious beliefs and the
proposed changes.5 For community development, religion in the
community should not be taken lightly.
as of late seems to be political, even things that have nothing to do with
politics. This is because politics set policy, and the political beliefs of
those in charge of a situation-such as community development-can dictate
everything from management to decision making.6 Political problems,
like corruption, are often behind many of the issues that are being addressed
through community development. Political power in the community can also impede
any actions that go against the political views of the leadership, which can
stagnate the entire process.
The geographic location and
the environment that a community is physically a part of are always going to
impact whatever actions the community takes as a whole. There are going to be
advantages and disadvantages to the community's physical location, and not all
of them are going to be controllable. On a global scale, location is a pretty
significant factor for pretty much anything.7 Throughout history,
environmental and geographic factors related to a particular location have
often been the key contributors for the level of development that occurs there.
Those factors present in a community, whether they are controllable or not, are
often going to impact the progression of community development efforts.
are in place for a reason, but that doesn't mean that they are not problematic
for development. In most cases, legal restrictions on community development are
there to prevent an overstepping of boundaries and to ensure that social rules
are followed. Any legal restrictions that are in place in a community will
often help development leaders determine what changes and efforts are going to
be feasible and beneficial to the community.
Government Involvement-Community development does include some
government involvement. This can vary based on existing laws and what it is
that you are trying to accomplish with the process. Large-scale actions may
require more government involvement than smaller actions. Event or building
permits, for example, usually need approval from local government agencies in
order to obtain them. Government involvement may pose some restrictions on the
community development process, but it can also act as a guiding force.
local economic factors are going to impact quite a bit when it comes to
community development. Anything from community members' socioeconomic status to
available resources, to their willingness to participate in the process can be
tied to the economy.8 Poverty is one of the most common issues that
community development is used to improve. Economies that are heavily impacted
by poverty are often the ones that need community development the most, but
their instability make it that much harder for the process to work.
community development efforts are going to be centered on what goes on in the
community's environment. This includes things like climate and weather.
Geography plays a heavy role in how natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes
impact communities, but not all community development efforts take such things
into consideration. Depending on a community's location, many of the issues the
process is setting out to address may be a byproduct of the damage caused by
natural disasters common to those areas.
obstacles, like geographic structures, can influence what community development
efforts are needed and what will work. An island-based community is going to
have different geographic impediments than a community that is inland. Such
features can impact the availability of resources, and what elements of
culture, social expectations, and belief systems are present in the community. These
can be harder obstacles to face due to the fact that you cannot always remove
or replace them through conventional means, if at all.
Probably more so than any
other factor listed in this article, the impact that resources have on community
development is going to be substantial. They are one of the key ingredients for
the process to work and a lack of quality necessary resources is almost always
going to cause problems for a community. Obstacles regarding resources can be
especially troublesome as a result, and may cause significant delays in a
community's efforts to improve itself. Even the most imaginative and creative
person can only do so much with nothing, so resources really are a valuable
factor in community development.
Costs and Budgeting-Money
is already going to be an issue for some communities, but it is definitely
going to be a factor in what can be done in the community development process.
For many communities, access to the necessary financial resources are essential
for them to reach their goals for improvement.9 Even when there is
money to use for community development, if it isn't used wisely and budgeted,
then it's not going to be around for very long. Factors surrounding costs and
budgets are largely going to impact the planning stages of the community
development process, so some care is needed.
really difficult to accomplish anything in community development when the
availability of your necessary resources is limited. This is applicable for
financial, material, human, or social resources, as areas that are lacking tend
to put added strain elsewhere.10 Many community leaders will shape
their community development efforts around the resources they already have
access to, which can cut down on any availability issues that can arise later
on in the process. However, a lack of resources isn't the only way that the
process can be impacted; an abundance of resources can be an issue because it
can lead to waste.
sustainability of the resources used by the community during the community
development process can carry a lot of influence over other factors. Unsustainable
resources can have damaging effects on the community's environment and can
drain other necessary resources in their handling and acquirement. They also
tend to have limited usage-mostly once and then that's it. Sustainable
resources, on the other hand, can often be used repeatedly before being
discarded and they have a lower environmental impact. In some cases, such
resources can be introduced to the community and flourish on their own for
later usage. Depending on what it is that the community wants to accomplish,
addressing the sustainability of their resources may be necessary.