NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning

NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning

NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning

NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning

Excerpt

This bookis about change in non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It explores how NGOs change over time and examines the forces, both local and global, that shape them. Following the end of the Cold War, there has been an increase in attention among the international aid community to civil society organizations and institutions, and especially to development-oriented NGOs. This growth in attention and funding to NGOs appears to have been motivated by a number of factors. On one hand, it has been driven by evidence of state failure in service provision and an attendant neo-liberal economic climate of state retrenchment. On the other hand, it has been inspired by a belief that NGOs are not only more efficient service providers than public agencies but that they are also more democratic and effective in reaching the poor, despite a dearth of supportive empirical evidence. As development aid is increasingly channeled through NGOs rather than through governments, there is mounting pressure on NGOs to expand and scale-up their work, sometimes to the extent of replacing state services.

The focus of this book is on relationships between NGOs and their international networks of funders. Understanding these broader linkages is crucial to making sense of how and why NGOs change. In exploring the impacts of international funding on NGOs, this book devotes special attention to organizational reporting and learning systems. It examines not only the tensions created by the reporting requirements of funders, but also the strategies of resistance employed by NGOs as well as long-term changes in organizational behavior. Focusing on two NGOs in rural western India, and a host of funders in North America and Europe, it shows that systems of reporting, monitoring, and learning play especially central roles in shaping not only what NGOs do but, more importantly, how they think about what they do. How organizational members think about and conceptualize their work has profound implications for their long-term development strategies.

The initial seed for this book was planted in 1991. As a young fellow in a program supported by the Canadian International Development Agency and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, I had the good fortune to spend several months with one of India’s most highly reputed development NGOs – the Aga . . .

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