Non-governmental organizations are no longer a peripheral actor on the world stage. NGOs in both the South and the North have grown dramatically in recent years. The UNDP suggests that there were probably close to 50 000 NGOs in developing countries in the 1980s, many of which could not survive without assistance from the North.1 However, NGOs’ real impact and significance is only poorly understood. NGO staff have little time to think about the broader political and social implications of their activities since they are often overworked and absorbed in day-to-day problems. As well, much of the existing literature on development is not very helpful for evaluating the significance of NGOs or guiding their action.

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Institute of Political Economy

Macdonald, L. (1997). Toward Global Civil Society?. Supporting Civil Society, 140–159. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-25178-0_5