Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Empowerment as a zero-sum game

Knack, Stephen (2004): Empowerment as a zero-sum game. Published in: Measuring empowerment: cross-disciplinary perspectives , Vol. edited, (2005): pp. 365-382.

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Empowerment of the poor does not necessarily make them better off – or make the non-poor worse off. In some cases, empowerment may be inefficient, i.e. a negative-sum game. In other cases, it is a zero-sum game, as the poor can benefit only at the expense of someone else. But in many cases, it can be positive-sum, and these opportunities should be identified and pursued by reformers. Attempts by donor organizations and NGOs to empower the poor should focus on means by which the poor are likely to be made better off without making others worse off. Not only is this approach consistent with efficiency, it will also often be the only politically feasible way to empower the poor.

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