Size matters: the need for human-scale economic institutions for development

Current mainstream development thinking, with the exception of a few areas like microcredit, tends to favour size over substance. This article aims to challenge the belief that large-scale companies, markets, and institutions are the most effective means of `delivering development'. We argue that, by designing institutions to meet different needs at different scales, long-term sustainable development outcomes are more likely. Through an analysis of `new economics' thinking, we look specifically at how the concept of subsidiarity could be applied to development thinking at the community and business levels, and we draw on some examples of where the concept is already manifest in practice, such as energy and commodity production.