Governance of Nongovernmental Organizations: A Framework and Application to Poverty Programs in East Africa

34 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2004

See all articles by Stephen C. Smith

Stephen C. Smith

George Washington University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 25, 2004

Abstract

This paper examines critical issues in the corporate governance of NGOs. A framework for analysis of governance of NGO poverty programs is developed. The emphasis is placed on the potential for divergence between de jure organizational structure and the de facto process of decision-making. Then, ten case studies of selected NGOs currently running poverty programs in sub-Saharan Africa are considered, each program locally operated but with various degrees of control by or linkages to international networks and funding sources. Programs were selected to span a wide range of sectors including microfinance, income generation, agricultural development, appropriate technology, education, public health, medical care, day care, and environmental protection and sustainability. To gain insights into de facto governance, the most important decision made by each of the ten NGOs over the past several years is examined. Generally, whichever party controlled the key sources of funding had the largest voice in the decision. Yet major advantages to giving the poor a larger voice in the governance of the programs that affect them are identified. The solution could be to find better ways to encourage, account for, and acknowledge the important contributions of the poor in poverty programs. While this paper focuses on poverty programs, some of the implications may apply to for-profit corporate governance in Africa, and to NGO governance in general.

Keywords: corporate governance, nongovernmental organizations, NGO's, poverty, Africa

JEL Classification: G34, O55, L33

Suggested Citation

Smith, Stephen C., Governance of Nongovernmental Organizations: A Framework and Application to Poverty Programs in East Africa (August 25, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=628684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.628684

Stephen C. Smith (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Economics ( email )

2115 G Street NW
306 Monroe Hall
Washington, DC 20052
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www2.gwu.edu/~iiep/about/faculty/ssmith/

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