|Organizational Performance and Change Management - Workshop proceedings - October 1-3, 1997, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Philippines (IIRR, 1997)|
|The external context of NGDOs|
The following section discusses the context of current NGDO work and explains the various external impetus for effective organizational performance and change management as shared by Mr. Alan C. Alegre, Development Management Consultant.
INTERNATIONALLY, AMONG THE many factors which have been influencing the definition of the content, processes, scope and arenas of non-government development organization (NGDO) work, the globalization phenomenon has been the most dominant. The end of the cold war and the crisis of socialism have reconfigured everything into a unipolar world dominated by the West, and have contextualized the rise of neoliberalism and capitalism, the major paradigm which underpinned globalization.
Globalization is manifested in the economy, socio-culture, environment and politics.
Globalization is equated with the rise of the neoliberal-capitalist global economy characterized by the transnationalization of capital and its increased mobility, the globalization of the labor market, economic liberalization, privatization and real trade.
On one hand, globalization has brought about the homogenization of cultures into a one-world culture that is dominantly Western. A dominance that is being consolidated more and more by the centralization of cultural resources in the hands of a few big Western communication media and information technology companies. On the other hand, the globalization of communication media has also proven to be advantageous in that its democratizing character has engendered an increasing global social consciousness.
The consumerism of exponentially growing populations and the accompanying unabated economic production fueled by globalization have resulted in the progressive destruction of ecosystems. On a positive note, there has been growing universal recognition of the natural resource crisis as being a borderless phenomenon for which responsibility cannot be demarcated precisely among nations and regions.
The decreasing sovereignty of the nation-state, accompanied by the increasing role of regionalization, has been the most important political development in the era of globalization. More importantly, however, an equivalent trend has been the rising interest in, and role of, the expanding global civil society movement.
In terms of the fund sourcing outlook, flows to Northern NGDOs have continued to come from the gift economy, official aid and the market. Gift economy funds come mainly from personal contributions, official aid from both multilateral and bilateral institutions as well as from tax revenues, and market money from corporate support and NGDO enterprise and investment. Likewise, Southern and Eastern NGDOs have continued to receive funds from the Northern NGDOs as well as from all the other sources contributing to the latter.
Official development assistance (ODA) has been generally decreasing. Personal giving has also been declining. Only the flows from the state have been increasing which could be indicative of the softening stance of the NGDOs towards working with government. The market has also continued to offer some good prospects to alternative sustainable financing. Market funds are considered of the highest quality because of their unrestricted nature.
As far as NGDO-foreign donor relations is concerned, local NGDOs have continued to rely on foreign assistance for bulk of their funds and the funding system has remained short-term and results-oriented, or donor-driven, until now. However, there is growing awareness among progressive-minded donors of the need for NGDOs to overcome their dependence on traditional development financing and become more financially-independent and sustainable. But such realization comes with an increasing demand for accountability. Donors want to see their scarce resources used more efficiently and to have more visible impact on poverty reduction.
In the domestic scene, despite the relative political stability, modest growth in the economy and reduction in poverty incidence, in the last five years, the country's fundamental problems of underdevelopment continue to exist and provide the rationale for NGDO work.
The role and priorities of the Philippine government have been changing consistent with political movements brought about by globalization. This development has translated into the privatization and deregulation of some of the Government's functions, i.e., the transfer of some of its socially-progressive roles to civil society and corporate organizations. It has also resulted in the State placing primacy on its economic, over its social, reform agenda.
The administration of President Corazon Aquino created an NGO-friendly environment that legitimized PO-NGDO development work. Since then, the State has allowed for democratized spaces within which NGDOs can operate. This has affirmed that the State is not monolithic, it is not a closed arena of struggle, and those who want transformation could use this arena for their struggles.
The Local Government Code (LGC), the Philippine Agenda 21 (PA 21) and the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) are examples of major avenues through which NGDOs can engage. Some of the existing mechanisms for direct NGDO participation in governance include: local government units, national policy and planning as well as government line agencies, sectoral representation in Congress and follow-up activities to United Nations Summits and international covenants. However, the huge task of operationalizing the PA 21 and SRA remains on the shoulders of the NGDO community because the government continues to emphasize economic reforms to the neglect of social reforms.
Some strategic NGDO responses to the changing international and domestic context include: engaging in the more mainstream state-led governance, and market-led economic activities; scaling-up through continuous networking and careful alliance/coalition-building; opening up of new arenas and themes for, and enlargement of the scope of, advocacy; enhancing bureaucratic literacy as well as research and alliance building capacity; rethinking social organizing strategies in the light of new spatial arrangements and target groups; and professionalizing NGDO practice.
Some alternative market-based resource generation strategies include: promoting corporate philanthropy and responsibility; undertaking cooperative banking in local communities; enhancing development entrepreneurship through various earned-income strategies such as commercial enterprises and market investments; and internal and external alternative trading and marketing. Among the non-market based alternatives, on the other hand, are namely: sourcing and managing public or government funds, both local and national, and the setting-up and management of endowments.
The professionalization of NGDO practice has become imperative because of external demands and internal pressures for more accountability and better performance. Professionalization could be achieved without eroding the NGDO core spirit.
In conclusion, the very ethos that constitutes the NGDO spirit and drives its movement is empowerment. As long as this remains to be the anchor against which NGDOs constantly reaffirm whatever they are doing, NGDOs should not be afraid to re-invent themselves to make themselves more relevant.