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Girls’ access to education in China: actors, cultures and the windmill of development management

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:37 authored by Xiaojun Grace Wang
The world has a mixed record towards achieving EFA and the MDGs in relation to the targets on gender equity in basic education. For researchers and practitioners, this raises the question of which factors influence the processes leading to the improvement of access and quality of girls’ education and how. This case study from China examines the human and cultural dimensions of project management in determining the planning, implementation and evaluation of interventions designed to improve gender equity. The monograph combines concepts from the actor-oriented approach of development studies, with theories of culture and development management. It generates an analytical framework composed of two super ordinate ‘cultural landscapes’. One is the ‘relational’ landscape with its dimensions of power distance, masculinity-femininity, and collectivism-individualism. The other is the ‘time-orientation’ landscape with its dimensions of uncertainty avoidance and universalism-particularism. The ‘cultural landscapes’ and dimensions provide a powerful description of how the perceptions and strategies of interaction vary and change between and within individual actors. The monograph illustrates how managers act as innovators with varied perceptions and interaction strategies influenced by multiple levels of culture, social and political contexts. Using the metaphor of a windmill, the monograph suggests that project management moves beyond the linear cyclical logic presented in many of the planning texts and manuals of development agencies. The steps and stages of development management are the windmill’s blades. The cultural interactions between actors form the wind that gives the blades energy and speed. The blades run both synchronically and sequentially depending on the wind strength. The monograph recommends that development managers should move beyond superficial concerns for outputs and products to a deeper concern for human and cultural processes that lead to results for achieving EFA and the MDGs.


Publication status

  • Published



Place of publication

Brighton, UK

Department affiliated with

  • Education Publications


Research Monograph No. 39


The Institute of Education, University of London

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