Devolving Responsibilities: a Framework for Analysing NGOs and Services

  • Leon Gordenker
  • Thomas G. Weiss
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Five essays in this volume examine the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in specific sectors of important international concern. This introduction to those chapters sets out common groundwork for their enquiry. The common working hypothesis is based on an earlier research project1 that included a series of functional case studies2 touching on efforts by the United Nations (UN) and associated agencies to channel resources to NGOs:

As part of a ‘privatising’3 of world politics and the emergence of a global civil society, bilateral and multilateral organisations are increasingly relying upon NGOs. To the extent that this is true and either beneficial or detrimental for enhanced global governance — that is, working for or against better solutions to or management of problems that extend beyond the capacity of individual states — a policy prescription would follow: this trend could and should be either accelerated or attenuated.


United Nations Global Governance World Politics Global Civil Society Recipient Government 
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  1. 1.
    Leon Gordenker and Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Pluralizing global governance: analytical approaches and dimensions’ and ‘NGO participation in the international policy process’, in Thomas G. Weiss and Leon Gordenker (eds), NGOs, the UN, and Global Governance (Boulder Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1996), pp. 17–47 and 209–221.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    This term is in quotes because it means the provision of public goods financed with public resources but carried out by private organizations; this should be distinguished from the enchantment with the notion of eliminating public services altogether. For a discussion, see Steven R. Smith and Michael Lipsky, Non-Profits for Hire: The Welfare State in the Age of Contracting (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993);Google Scholar
  3. and Lester Salamon and Helmut Anheier, The Emerging Sector: An Overview (Baltimore Md.: The Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, 1994).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See Peter Sollis, ‘Partners in development? The state, NGOs, and the UN in Central America’, in ibid., pp. 189–206; and Paul Nelson, The World Bank and Non-Governmental Organizations (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), especially Chapters 4–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 8.
    David Korten, Getting to the 21st Century: Voluntary Action and the Global Agenda (West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press, 1990), especially pp. 102–5.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    For example, see Peter Willetts (ed.), The Conscience of the World: The Influence of Non-Governmental Organizations in the U.N. System (London: Hurst, 1996).Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    See Ian Smillie, The Alms Bazaar: Altruism Under Fire — Non-profit Organizations and International Development (London: IT Publications, 1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 15.
    See S. Neil MacFarlane and Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Regional organizations and regional security’, Security Studies, 2 (1), Autumn 1992, pp. 6–37;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. and Jarat Chopra and Thomas G. Weiss, ‘Prospects for containing conflict in the former Second World’, Security Studies 4 (3), Spring, 1995, pp. 552–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 16.
    See Michael Edwards and David Hulme (eds), Beyond the Magic Bullet: NGO Performance and Accountability in the Post-Cold War World (West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press, 1996).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Third World Quarterly and Academic Council on the United Nations System 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leon Gordenker
  • Thomas G. Weiss

There are no affiliations available

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