As government officials and political activists are becoming increasingly aware, international nonprofit agencies have an important political dimension: although not self-serving, these private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seek social changes of which many of their financial contributors are unaware. As PVOs and NGOs receive increasing subsidies from their home governments in the United States, Canada, and Europe, they are moving away from short-term relief commitments in developing countries and toward longer-term goals in health, education, training, and small-scale production. Showing that European and Canadian NGOs focus more on political change as part of new development efforts than do their U.S. counterparts, Brian Smith presents the first major comparative study of the political aspect of PVOs and NGOs. Smith emphasizes the paradoxes in the private-aid system, both in the societies that send aid and in those that receive it. Pointing out that international nonprofit agencies are in some instances openly critical of nation-state interests, he asks how these agencies can function in a foreign-aid network intended as a support for those same interests. He concludes that compromises throughout the private-aid networkand some secrecymake it possible for institutions with different agendas to work together. In the future, however, serious conflicts may develop with donors and nation states.
Originally published in 1990.
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Subjects: Sociology, Business
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