Worlds apart but much alike: Donor funding and the homogenization of NGOs in Ghana and Indonesia
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SourceStudies in Comparative International Development, 50, 3, (2015), pp. 331-357
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Studies in Comparative International Development
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
In the field of civil society and democracy promotion, the relevance and effectiveness of donor strategies is often linked to their ability to adjust to local contextual factors. Despite the importance attached to tailor-made approaches, donor-sponsored democracy promoting NGOs in such different parts of the world as Ghana and Indonesia have very similar organizational characteristics. This paper explores the question of why they are so similar. We draw on institutional theory and use the concept of organizational isomorphism to illustrate how different pressures result in the homogenization of organizational characteristics. We find that besides the more commonly identified unequal power relation between donor and recipient, homogenization also stems from the NGOs themselves and from the relation between their various organizational characteristics (i.e., mission, staff, strategy, and structure). Furthermore, we argue that the process of homogenization can be seen as the institutionalization of trust between donor and recipient. In our discussion, we reflect on the limitations of our findings and on what they mean for donor support to NGOs and democracy.
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