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Meta-analysing community action projects in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Community Development Journal, 41(2), 143–159

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Greenaway and Witten explore the resurgence of interest in community-led decision-making and development in Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly under the Labour Government.

As they note, devolution to community-based decision-making has been policy response in light of evidence that social service provision initiate purely within central government has not adequately addressed many social and environmental needs. The authors conduct a meta-analysis of ten community action projects, examining their activation, consolidation, and transition or completion phases. The primary aim is to identify shared structural and procedural elements that influence the success or failure of these projects in achieving their goals of social change. A significant conclusion of the study is the pivotal role played by critical reflection processes, the understanding of power dynamics among stakeholders, and the recognition of the social, cultural, and historical contexts surrounding the projects. These elements are deemed crucial in evaluating the effectiveness of community action projects in enacting meaningful social change. The paper offers valuable insights into the mechanisms of community development and the complexities involved in managing diverse stakeholder relationships. It underscores the importance of reflective practices and contextual understanding in achieving sustainable outcomes in community-led initiatives. Moreover, the meta-analysis methodology employed by the authors is noted for its effectiveness in elevating the examination of community action projects beyond individual case studies. This approach reveals insights not only about the projects themselves but also about common factors that enhance or inhibit community action projects, particularly in aspects of funding, evaluation, and coordination.

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