International NGOs

Master’s thesis: Dissecting Accountability and Effectiveness of International Nongovernmental Organization (INGO) Work: Converging and Diverging Perspectives between Academia and the Field

Abstract: International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs) have undergone a dramatic growth and evolution in recent history. Along with the growth in numbers, INGOs have also experienced an increase in their scope of responsibilities, and the freedom and autonomy to implement their policies into practice (Charnovitz, 1997; Iriye, 1999, 2002). However, the twenty-first century has also witnessed a growing body of criticism against INGOs suggesting the increasing demand for INGOs to demonstrate accountability and effectiveness (Charnovitz, 2006; Lister, 2003; Steffek & Hahn, 2010). This thesis explored the perspectives of two INGOs, and their staff members and volunteers on how they view, understand and experience issues of accountability and effectiveness as it relates to their work. Using content analysis of publicly obtainable organizational documents and conducting qualitative interviews with staff members and volunteers, this thesis found that key themes identified are: multi-faceted donor accountability where different donors exert their own pressures on INGOs; the ability to sustainably support Partners working in the Global South as the primary focus of INGO work; the summative and descriptive reporting of impact; and the continuing challenge of conducting impact assessment. This study concludes that despite sampling INGOs using two different models to further the goal of international development, there were more similarities in the issues of accountability and effectiveness faced than differences. By considering the perspectives of INGOs and those working on the field, we can move towards developing constructive approaches that can meaningfully assist INGOs in documenting and assessing their own accountability and effectiveness.

Link to the full copy of my thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/10388/ETD-2012-08-598

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