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    Conventional social behaviour amongst microfinance clients

    Dos Anjos, Pablo Lucas (2014) Conventional social behaviour amongst microfinance clients. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This doctoral thesis inductively explores the role of conventional social behaviour adopted by individual microfinance clients regarding their influence over their own collective success as a microcredit group. The collective credit in question is subject to an adaptation in Mexico of the Grameen Bank lending framework. An analysis is made on the close interplay between institutional rules, i.e. the repayment conditions imposed by the microfinance institution (henceforth MFI), and the emergent cooperation and penalisation mechanisms that are handled by clients themselves to meet their targets. Thus the research is focused on the clients’ strategies to socially manage debt and defaulters. In this case study, a socio-economical fieldwork has been completed through surveying 600 microcredit clients, their 2404 active loans, 35 credit officers plus their board of directors. This took place in the southernmost state of Mexico, Chiapas, from September 2007 to February 2008, and data analysis was carried out during that period until July 2009. All findings were discussed with relevant stakeholders and policy makers. This proved key in providing influential insights that helped to improve the institutional regulatory framework. That resulted in a policy change that benefited over 20,000 clients. Apart from institutional regulations, it has also been observed group-level strategies devised by microfinance clients themselves to assess and deal with defaulters over time. These operate independently from the MFI framework as, despite influencing when and how quotas should be repaid, their criteria is entirely dealt with and evolved within credit groups. The obtained outcomes from analysing social and financial data include: • (I) insights backed by empirical data helped to influence an adaptation of the MFI funding credit policy, so that group structure and conventions are actually taken into consideration in a bid to foster more successful microcredit groups; • and (II) an analysis deemed reliable by the stakeholders for policy-making purposes, which has also guided the development of an exploratory model for simulating behaviour of how microcredit groups may deal with repayments in adversity. As a result of having developed this research project, three contributions to knowledge are discussed in the thesis. These are organised below according to relevant topics. 1. Understanding the behaviour within studied microfinance groups: based on the analysed evidence, a hypotheses is suggested about how group location and membership can influence the dynamics of acceptable behaviour regarding defaulters. 2. Informing policy-making with research findings: a demonstration of how stakeholders can assess the usefulness of knowledge –produced via research– for policymaking purposes, taking into account the phenomenon’s particular context. 3. The development of an agent-based model (henceforth ABM): application of the proposed ABM methodology, aimed at strengthening validation throughout the modelling process with emphasis on use of evidence and stakeholder participation.

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