Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Timothy D. Sisk, Ph.D.


Complementarity, Guatemala, Human development, Local governance, Post-conflict


Developing countries emerging from conflict often feature enduring, destitute poverty amid often fast-growing economies at the national level. This dissertation explores a critical question: What accounts for variation in human development levels across similar communities in conflict-affected countries? In particular it explores how some equally poor, indigenous, highland communities in Guatemala have made advances in health and education, while others have stagnated or regressed. These results are demonstrated through a quantitative analysis of all of Guatemala’s 334 municipalities, utilizing difficult to access data from myriad sources, combined with the results of qualitative field methods – including over 250 key informant interviews and focus group participants across 6 paired communities throughout the Western Highlands – which aided in process tracing the implementation of a widely acclaimed government anti-hunger program at the village level. The principal finding is that, contrary to an emerging recognition of the role of “ordinary citizens” in peacebuilding and violence reduction, human development requires complementarity of citizen mobilization and government resources. When state actors at the local level coordinate with traditional leaders, and gain the cooperation and support of the mayor – giving meaning to complementarity –local governance allows for measurable gains in human development at the local level. By highlighting stark differences in local governance and development outcomes across otherwise similar communities in the highlands of Guatemala, this paper raises important questions about: the role of durable social forces at the local level and their ability – if not taken into consideration – to thwart what are otherwise award-winning development schemes designed abroad or in the capital city; the complications of “local ownership” and local legitimacy with respect to development in complex environments of state-society discord; and the limitations of our knowledge of local forces on human development outcomes.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Matthew Thornton Klick

File size

230 p.

File format





Political Science, Sociology, Latin American studies