Corridors of power: The institutional design of North-South NGO partnerships
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SourceVoluntas. International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 24, 1, (2013), pp. 48-67
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Voluntas. International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
Power asymmetries within partnerships between Northern and Southern NGOs are thought to be undesirable. Based on a comparative case study of the partnerships between three Northern NGOs and their Southern partners in Ghana, India and Nicaragua, this study examines how the partnerships’ institutional design affects local partners’ room to manoeuvre. It is demonstrated that (1) the Northern agencies unilaterally set the rules that govern the partnerships, based on their own norms, values and beliefs; (2) similarities and differences between the rules of the three agencies can, above all, be attributed to the corresponding and diverging nature of their norms, values and beliefs; and (3) informal rules allow more flexibility in their use. Whether this is beneficial for the Southern partners’ room to manoeuvre depends on individual project officers, who are responsible for interpreting and applying the rules, and the partners’ ability to conduct negotiations.
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