Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Edward Sayre

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Joseph St. Marie

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Julie Reid

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 4

Robert Maguire


For decades, Paul Romer’s endogenous growth theory has enriched the discussion regarding human capital in development. Romer posits that human capital is a vital resource and critical component of macroeconomic growth. With emigration identified as the leading cause of human capital loss for developing countries, Romer recommends growth policies focus on accessing knowledge in more developed parts of the world. As a way to achieve sustained development, institutions like the United Nations have proposed strategies similarly aligned with Romer’s theory. These institutions suggest the diaspora, as a source of human capital, can go beyond remittances and serve as integral actors in development.

While this dissertation agrees there are substantial benefits to incorporating the diaspora in development initiatives, the entrenchment of host and homeland actors raises serious questions about the effectiveness of this strategy. These questions are especially significant in Haiti, where a multitude of host actor organizations has long played a leading role in Haiti’s development. In order to successfully introduce the Haitian diaspora, perceptions and attitudes of Haitian development actors were examined through case study analysis, one-on-one semi-structured interviews, and a self-administered survey (n=482). Uncovering these perceptions and attitudes is critical to forming policies that engage, utilize, and retain the Haitian diaspora in a long-term and meaningful way.

Overall, results indicated the Haitian diaspora is broadly receptive and enthusiastic to the notion of being integral actors. While their perceptions surrounding the strategy remained positive, the diaspora conveyed considerable barriers to widespread engagement. Host actors in Haiti exhibited some reservations to the strategy, detecting it would structurally change the North-South development model. Host actors expressed they were sensitive to the voice of the Haitian people being further diminished by a new entrant. Homeland actors were eager and open to the idea of the Haitian diaspora participating in development initiatives. They recognized the Haitian diaspora’s contributive impact on the Haitian economy, and acceptance of the diaspora in initiatives was a reasonable next step. Finally, international actors should focus policies that provide broad education about Haiti and better inclusion as ways to improve engagement with the Haitian diaspora.