“Development assistance, whether through bilateral, UN or NGO channels, has often acted as a North-South conveyor belt for Western rationality...This approach...may be fundamentally alien to the way that social change is perceived in non-Western cultures.” Donini, A. (1995) ‘The bureaucracy and the free spirits: stagnation and innovation in the relationship between the UN and NGOs,’ Third World Quarterly, Vol. 16, September 1995, 421-439.
In an attempt to understand this problem, I chose to apply the Western management construct of organizational effectiveness (OE) to five Indonesian grassroots nongovernmental organizations to learn how they perceive, understand, interpret and implement the construct of OE in the management of their organizations.
1. How do Indonesian grassroots NGOs define organizational effectiveness? What do grassroots NGO managers and staffs understand by the concept of OE? What do they believe are the key components of OE relative to their own perceived needs? Why do they think these components are important?
2. How are the participants working towards OE within their organizations? What actions have the subjects taken to assess their progress? How do they monitor and modify their action plans in pursuit of organizational effectiveness within their NGOs?
3. How does this data compare with findings from other research locations? To what extent is the understanding and operationalization of organizational effectiveness context dependent?
”Toward a definition and development of NGO organizational effectiveness in Indonesia: an unfolding journey,” Doctoral thesis, University of South Australia International Graduate School of Management, Adelaide, Australia, April, 2005
Participants perceived the construct of organizational effectiveness in political, not management terms and were generally hostile towards the Western bias that came with its use as a management tool in their organizations. NGO staffs utilized various elements of OE in the workplace, but generally were unable to bring about significant management changes using OE as a point of reference. The research was clearly context-specific. Western OE models do not adequately explain the way these NGOs function, nor do these management models seem appropriate or relevant to their daily activities. External geophysical-geopolitical pressures are constantly interacting with organizational goals, objectives and activities. The research generated many more questions, particularly the relevance, appropriateness and validity of applying Western models of NGO governance to developing country NGOs, especially at grassroots level.