The Network Effects of NGOs on Social Capital and Innovation of Smallholder Farmers. A Case Study in Peru

24 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2019 Last revised: 19 Jan 2019

See all articles by Dominik Hartmann

Dominik Hartmann

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC); University of Hohenheim; Fraunhofer IMW

Atilio Arata


Mayra Bezerra

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft

Flavio L. Pinheiro

NOVA IMS - Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Date Written: January 9, 2019


The impact of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) on the local development of rural areas has rarely been explored empirically. Here we employ methods from network science to evaluate the impact of an NGO’s activities on the social capital and innovation of three Peruvian farming communities between 2003 and 2018. Data was collected from in-depth interviews with farmers, including information about the farmers’ socioeconomic characteristics, types of interactions with the NGO, and innovations in processes, products, marketing, and organization. Our findings show that the NGO had a significant impact on the local social cohesion and innovation performance of the farmers. The NGO helped to connect farmers from different villages, provided access to external knowledge, and facilitated the establishment of a local productive organization. Yet, the NGO also changed the local power structure by becoming the most central agent in the local innovation system. The NGO’s centrality declined, though, at later stages of the development project as local agents took over the role of the NGO. Moreover, econometric results show that having a link with the NGO is associated with a significantly more central role of the farmers in the local network. However, only close cooperation with the NGO, such as membership in the local productive organization or active participation in technical training workshops was associated with a significantly higher innovation performance. Finally, our study demonstrates that methods from network science can help to empirically evaluate and monitor the effects of NGOs on local development at different stages of their development interventions.

Keywords: NGO; smallholders; innovation; social capital; network analysis; local development

JEL Classification: D8, L3, O31, Q1, R11

Suggested Citation

Hartmann, Dominik and Arata, Atilio and Bezerra, Mayra and Pinheiro, Flavio L., The Network Effects of NGOs on Social Capital and Innovation of Smallholder Farmers. A Case Study in Peru (January 9, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Dominik Hartmann (Contact Author)

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) ( email )

Campus Reitor João David Ferreira Lima
Bairro Trindade
Florianopolis, Santa Catarina 88040

University of Hohenheim ( email )

Fruwirthstr. 48
Stuttgart, 70599

Fraunhofer IMW ( email )

Neumarkt 9
Leipzig, 04109

Atilio Arata

DESCO ( email )

Huayna Capac 1372 Jesús María
Lima, Lima Lima 11

Mayra Bezerra

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft ( email )

Leonrodstrasse 54
D-80636 Munchen

Flavio L. Pinheiro

NOVA IMS - Universidade Nova de Lisboa ( email )

Nova Information Management School
Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Campus de Campolide
Lisbon, 1070-312


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