The policy-facing research project ‘INGOs and the Long Humanitarian Century’ is based at Nuffield College and is led by Professor Andrew Thompson and Professor Sir Mike Aaronson. It is supported by AHRC Care for the Future theme – a thematic programming grant held by Professor Thompson.
The rise of powerful international NGOs (INGOs) is widely recognized as a key development in the international humanitarian landscape over the last century, especially in the last thirty years. The part played by INGOs in the delivery of emergency relief and longer-term development assistance is well documented. But there is a widespread feeling within the leadership of the INGO community that this is a time for critical reflection about the nature of INGOs themselves and their relations with their donors and beneficiaries as well as with governments in their countries of operation. There is much talk of INGOs being in crisis: a crisis of legitimacy, of core identity, and of relevance.
The approach of this project is captured in the framework of 'Legacy, Legitimacy, and Leadership'. There is an empirical starting point: who exactly are these organisations, how have they changed over the years, and where are they now? Then there is a normative component that assesses their claims to legitimacy against other models (there will be an empirical dimension here too, to help us understand those other models better). And finally, there is a forward-looking piece, more prescriptive, which is about the future leadership that is required if INGOs are to continue to be relevant and effective.
In essence, this is about understanding INGOs’ fundamental purpose, the values that inspire them, how well their culture reflects those values and the degree of trust that they manage to secure both from those on whose support they depend and from those in whose name they exist, given the changing world in which they now have to operate.
INGOs Leadership Survey, in partnership with Save the Children UK
In Spring 2021 we launched our survey of CEOS and Senior Executives of the world’s leading INGOs. Working with colleagues at Save the Children UK, we interviewed over 50 CEOs and Executive Directors to capture their views on the aid and development sector and their vision for the sector by the year 2030. The results of the survey are due to be released in September 2021.