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Transnationalizing Community Development: The Case of Migration between Boston and the Dominican Republic

Peggy Levitt
Published: 1 December 1997

Abstract: This article explores the impact of transnationalism on organizational performance through a study of an organization spanning Boston and the Dominican Republic. Because growing numbers of migrants sustain strong, long-term ties to their countries of origin, these kinds of transnational migrant organizations are becoming increasingly common. Transnational activism enhanced organizational performance at the same time that it constrained it. The organization contributed significantly to sending-community development. A more diverse, highly-skilled group of residents participated. The organization functioned more efficiently and accountably, and the community enhanced its position vis-à-vis the state. The benefits of transnationality were not without cost. A sharp division of labor between donors and beneficiaries meant that nonmigrant interests sometimes received short shrift. There were significant ebbs and flows in activism. Finally, the community's heightened ability to solve its problems set a precedent that allowed the Dominican government to pursue policies unfavorable to rural development.
Keywords: community development

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