Increasing strategic accountability : a framework for NGOs
journal contributionposted on 03.11.2008, 15:18 authored by Sue Cavill, M. Sohail (Khan)
Recently, the accountability of international development non-governmental organizations (INGOs) has attracted a great deal of interest from academics and development practitioners. INGO accountability falls into two categories: practical accountability for the use of inputs, the way activities are performed and for outputs, and strategic accountability for how INGOs are performing in relation to their mission. It is the purpose of this paper to present a conceptual framework for exploring INGO accountability. This paper is based on information collected through a literature review and semi-structured interviews with representatives from 20 UK based INGOs. The research found that INGOs tend to use a number of qualityassurance mechanisms to achieve ‘practical’ accountability for their inputs/outputs. However, it is suggested that this kind of accountability will not necessarily enable INGOs to achieve their missions to alleviate poverty and eliminate injustice. Furthermore, the predominant use of practical accountability has led to a number of gaps in INGO accountability, which are discussed. It is suggested that, like the term participation before it, accountability has been co-opted for its instrumental benefits to INGO project performance and management. It is argued that if INGOs are to achieve their missions, this will require more ‘strategic’ forms of accountability geared towards fundamentally changing those social, economic and political structures that promote poverty.
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