JICA Research Institute

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Working Papers

No.146 The Evolving Life Improvement Approach: From Home Taylorism to JICA Tsukuba, and Beyond

In this article, we examine the history of the Life Improvement Approach (LIA) from around the turn of the 20th century, and propose a LIA model based on Japanese experiences followingWorld War II to JICA Tsukuba training courses for Latin American countries, taking into consideration recent advances in information and communications technology (ICT) available in developing countries.

In this paper, we first review the history of LIA, pointing out that self-determination and self-management (agency enhancement and pragmatism) are the two principal pillars of the current LIA model elaborated in JICA Tsukuba training courses. We also stress the importance of ‘accompaniment’ by extension workers. We reformulate LIA as an enhanced microeconomic model based on Mokyr (2002) to clarify its relevance as a development policy. We then analyze the case of a small association in Costa Rica using digital photos taken by extension workers, pointing out the necessity of operationalizing the model to fit onsite practices.

Based on this foundation, we present a blueprint for a new digital system for sharing images and texts of LIA, called SIMEVI, which provides a bridge between the theoretical model and onsite practices, and underlines the importance of an analog foundation for the system to fully function as an ‘engine’ to support LIA in developing countries.


Keywords: life improvement approach, self-determination, self-management, information communications technology (ICT), analog foundation.

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