Transport development and the rural economy : insights from Indonesia.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the roles of transport development in the rural economy. It is based on the fact that very little knowledge has been gained on how transport should be developed to bring maximum benefits to the rural population. The fundamental premises are that the relationship between transport development and the rural economy is highly multifaceted and that any explanation which does not consider context can never be sufficient. An institutional approach, based primarily on the new institutionalism theory, was employed as the theoretical basis for the analysis. The research was implemented at four levels of Indonesian institutions: national, district, village and household. Information was collected in Jakarta and four rural districts in Eastern Indonesia through key informant interviews, questionnaire surveys, field observation and library materials. The analyses explored the roots of ineffective rural transport development at each level of these institutions. At the national level, doctrines are chosen, organisations are created and policies are designed, all based on an "adopted" neo-classical assumption and without an appropriate understanding of the specific characteristics of transport and the rural economy. At the district level, there are few mechanisms available for people engaging in the practical development process to inform transport policy makers of the particular benefits and/or limitations of specific transport and rural development initiatives. At the village level, rural people have mainly been passive agents in the development process, without opportunities to determine the transport intervention that they need most. At the household level, individuals are not always able to respond to the opportunities created by transport improvements. All these have contributed to the failure of transport development to effectively promote the rural economy. Based on the empirical analysis, the linkages between transport development and the rural economy are conceptualised. Transport development needs to be approached as conscious and systematic efforts to improve rural accessibility and mobility. Such an approach should be supported by an environment conducive to greater recognition and participation of societal institutions in the development process. This thesis has important implications for the discourses on transport policy and research. There is a crucial need for transport policy and research to go beyond their conventional boundaries and to incorporate wider development perspectives that include the social, political, cultural and the economic relationships of rural regions and rural people.