Enhancing the role of accountability in promoting the rights of beneficiaries of development NGOs

O'Dwyer, Brendan and Unerman, J. (2010) Enhancing the role of accountability in promoting the rights of beneficiaries of development NGOs. Accounting and Business Research, 40 (5). pp. 451-471. ISSN 0001-4788

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This paper identifies and assesses the extent to which downward accountability mechanisms in nongovernmental development organisations (NGDOs) have had the potential in practice to contributeto the effectiveness of rights-based approaches to development. The paper draws on evidence gathered from a detailed documentary analysis and a series of in-depth interviews undertaken with seniorindividuals working in the Irish NGDO sector. The analysis indicates variations in practice with regard to the substantive implementation of key downward accountability mechanisms. The accountability-in-practice revealed suggests that challenges to substantive implementation have arisen due to:insufficient Irish NGDO attention to oversight of downward accountability within locally based partner NGDOs; a reluctance and/or inability to transfer influence to locally based partner NGDOs byallowing them some influence on Irish NGDO governance and strategy; the perceived control of locally based partner NGDOs by local elites who may be distant from, and unrepresentative of, local communities; and a perception that locally based partner NGDOs may not require downward accountability. Drawing on these findings, the paper makes some suggestions aimed at helping to transform the rhetorical NGDO commitment to downward accountability into real practices that can contribute substantively to the realisation of the key elements of the rights-based approach to development.

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Journal Article
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Accounting and Business Research
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21 Aug 2018 12:32
Last Modified:
20 Sep 2023 01:14